Deportation, referred to as “removal” in legal terms, occurs when the federal government orders that a non-citizen be removed from the United States. This can happen for different reasons, but typically occurs after the immigrant violates immigration laws or the more serious criminal laws. This section gives a broad overview of the deportation process, as well as some of the forms of relief available that may prevent deportation. Educating yourself about deportation will help you avoid the pitfalls that may cause deportation, and may allow you to stay in the U.S. if you do find yourself in deportation proceedings.
There are some limited circumstances in which a person is not entitled to removal proceeds. Those who entered the United States under the Visa Waiver program cannot, in most circumstances, get their case heard by an immigration judge. Part of the agreement that allows nationals of certain countries to enter the United States without first applying for a visa also stipulates that someone who violates the terms of the agreement can be removed without a hearing. Arriving aliens who lack documentation or attempt fraud upon entry are also, with some exception, subject to expedited removal.
In some cases where the immigration courts have the ability to deport someone they may choose not to. One significant use of deferred action in recent years has been the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). When the court exercises deferred action, it postpones the removal process for an individual or group of individuals, sometimes indefinitely. Deferred action does not, in itself, confer any additional benefits however.
Stay of Removal
A “stay of removal” refers to a temporary postponement of removal by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). A stay is typically either automatic or discretionary. Automatic stays of removal refer to situations where the individual has an appeal or motion pending with the court that might result in the overturning of the order. Discretionary stays are requested in writing and are typically also tied to pending motions and appeals.
Reentry After Removal
Removal from the United States may result in bars, typically three or 10 years longer, though some offenses may result in a lifetime bar. Once the bar is removed, either through the passage of time or the grant of a waiver, the person may apply for and receive a new visa to enter the country. Illegal re-entry after a removal, exclusion, or denial of admission can result in a fine, imprisonment, or both. Penalties may be even harsher if the person has prior criminal convictions.