Immigrating to the United States is an involved process that takes many months or even years. There is much paperwork to complete and many hearings to attend before obtaining a visa or naturalized citizen status. But immigration is a privilege, not a right. Coming to the U.S. as a noncitizen requires you to abide by the laws of the country and fulfill other important obligations. Failure to follow the law or other requirements has consequences, which can include removal from the country through a process known as deportation.
What Is Deportation?
Deportation proceedings are initiated and completed as a way of removing an immigrant or visa holder from the U.S. for committing a crime or breaking the terms of their visas. While an impartial judge from an immigration court can hear deportation cases, the process is a civil rather than a criminal matter. However, the government must provide evidence to establish the grounds for requesting deportation.
What Can Lead To Deportation?
U.S. immigration law includes a long list of actions that could constitute grounds for deportation. The most obvious is that a noncitizen is present in the country illegally without approval from the government. But what exactly are grounds for deportation? The immigration attorneys at De Castroverde Law Group have put together this list of the most common situations leading to deportation proceedings.
Violating Conditions of Your Visa
Noncitizens can apply for and receive U.S. visas for many purposes, but they have conditions. For instance, if you want to enter the U.S. to study in high school or college, you would apply for an F-1 visa. If something happens during your course of study, such as the school closing unexpectedly or not achieving minimum performance levels, then you’ll be required to leave the country voluntarily. If you don’t, the government can begin deportation proceedings.
Committing Certain Crimes
If you commit a crime listed in Section 237 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, it can provide the government with grounds to seek your removal. Note that this is a very specific list and doesn’t include every crime. Generally speaking, serious crimes of violence can result in your deportation, as can drug and firearm offenses and money laundering. The government can also seek deportation for crimes of moral turpitude, a category that roughly equates to committing a depraved or evil act contrary to common standards of decency.
Failing To Report a Change of Address
Many times, your residency is linked to your immigration status. You’re obligated to inform the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) when you change addresses. Failure to report a change of address could become grounds for deportation. Note that there could also be a good reason for the change and/or failure to report; this is one of the reasons why you need experienced legal counsel to represent you in immigration proceedings.
Becoming a Public Charge
Green card recipients are required to promise that they can support themselves while in the U.S. with no need for government assistance over five years. If that situation changes, and you accept public assistance, you can be subject to deportation.
What Is the Deportation Process?
Deportation operates with a structure that’s similar to a criminal case. Proceedings begin with an arrest, where federal authorities have some indication that a noncitizen may be a deportable person. This may occur during a traffic stop, for instance. Local law enforcement may also inform federal authorities about potential violations of the immigration status of people they have in custody. Violations of status may or may not result in a person being held in detention prior to an immigration court hearing.
Immigration authorities could in some circumstances seek immediate deportation. If they don’t, then the next phase is learning where your case will be heard in immigration court. The court hears evidence from the government; you have the right to be represented by counsel. If the court decides to approve an order for deportation, the final stage of proceedings involves Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which must make proper arrangements for the actual deportation.
Can You Fight Deportation?
Though deportation is a civil proceeding, you still have a right to due process. The attorneys at De Castroverde Law Group will work with you to explain the process and begin structuring a defense for your deportation proceedings. Some of the points you may be able to raise in immigration court include:
- Procedural errors in serving the notice to appear.
- Mistakes in record-keeping that indicate the wrong immigration status.
- Having a need for asylum protections.
- Doubts about the alleged crime being a legitimate basis for a deportation request.
- Proving long-standing ties to the community as justification for remaining in the country.
These and other potential points can be technical in nature and require the assistance of experienced legal counsel.
Can You Appeal a Deportation Order?
If a judge orders your removal from the country, you may be able to file an appeal with the Board of Immigration Appeals. This board consists of 23 immigration appellate judges and is in Falls Church, Virginia. In most instances, the board doesn’t meet to hold official proceedings; the judges will review the record of your case and any motions from your attorneys or the government on paper. However, there are exceptions and cases sometimes require oral arguments.
The board’s decisions have the force of law but can be overturned at the administrative level by the U.S. Attorney General. If your appeal is denied, you have one final option. You can appeal the board’s decision to the federal court system. It’s very rare, but you may ultimately be able to appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
You need proper legal counsel to respond to deportation proceedings against you. The attorney team at De Castroverde Law Group has extensive experience in all forms of immigration law and will fight for your rights. Our team also handles family-based immigration, visa processing, work permits, and adjustment of status hearings. Call us or contact us online today for a consultation.