Deportation and Removal Proceedings

What are Removal Proceedings and Deportation?

Removal is the word U.S. immigration law uses for what is commonly called "deportation." Removal is the process by which United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) attempts to remove non-citizens from the United States.

Non-citizens (aliens and permanent residents) can be placed in Removal Proceedings. This refers to the legal process of removing or deporting a non-citizen from the United States, due to various issues including overstaying an approved visa, violations, denial of immigrant petitions, criminal convictions, and other problems.

The vast majority of people who are not represented by an experienced attorney in removal proceedings get deported, while the vast majority of people who have good legal representation in removal proceedings are allowed to stay here. If you are deported, you stand to lose everything that you have built in the United States, including your home, your business, and your ability to be with your family.

The key to success in immigration court is having a lawyer who is experienced in removal proceedings and all types of relief for removal. Removal proceedings are very intensive and procedural, and every little detail matters. The immigration and deportation attorneys at our Los Angeles immigration office have successfully helped hundreds of individuals get out of deportation proceedings and stay with their family. Contact us today for a free immigration consultation.

What is a Notice To Appear (NTA) from the Department of Homeland Security?

If the Department of Homeland Security charges a noncitizen with an immigration law violation, it serves the person with a charging document, known as a Notice to Appear, ordering the individual to appear before an immigration judge. A person who has received a Notice to Appear (or “NTA”) is in removal proceedings, which means the government seeks to remove or deport the person from the United States. The NTA is the document the government gives you and the court to explain why you should be removed from the United States. The NTA starts the removal case against you. ICE must give you the NTA within 72 hours of your detention.

The NTA is divided into two parts. The first part which is labeled “Allegations” has your name, the country you are from, and the date and manner you entered the United States. It also gives the factual basis or reason for your removal. The second part is called “Charges.” It lists the sections of the law under which you may be removed. You must examine this document carefully and check for accuracy.

Removal Proceedings are serious and complicated proceedings that should be taken seriously at all stages even from your first Master Hearing. Immigration Law is complex and you should seek an experienced removal defense attorney to represent you throughout this process. Seeking a qualified deportation defense attorney could make the difference between been allowed to stay in the United States or been removed and separated from your family for many years. For your free initial consultation, call or email our expert Los Angeles immigration attorneys.

What does it mean to make a pleading on the notice to appear in immigration court?

At the beginning of your removal case the immigration judge will “take the pleadings.” The judge will review the NTA with you or your attorney and ask some very important questions. The immigration judge will want to know if the facts contained in the NTA are true, if you admit that you are removable, and whether you will be applying for any form of relief from removal. How you or your attorney answer these questions will have an enormous impact on the way your case proceeds.

In your removal case, the government must also prove the following:

  • Alienage: The government must prove that you are an alien, meaning that you are not a United States citizen. If you are a lawful permanent resident, they can do this by showing the judge a copy of your visa “face sheet” - the document which you received when you first entered into the United States. If you entered without inspection, they may rely any other evidence showing that you were not lawfully admitted into the United States. If the government cannot prove that you are an alien, then the case must be terminated;

  • Removability: If you are a lawful permanent resident or were otherwise lawfully admitted into the United States, the government must also prove by clear and convincing evidence that you are removable. They must show that you have done something to violate immigration law which permits the government to send you back to your country of origin.

If you want to fight your case, do not admit these allegations. Ask the court to make the government prove its case. Challenging the government’s claim that you are removable is legally complicated. You should consult with an immigration specialist who may help you prove that the crime you were convicted of is not a removable offense. At JCS Immigration and Visa Law, we can help you with a case-specific evaluation of your removal or deportation defense case. Call or email for a free initial consultation.

Who will hear my removal proceeding case in immigration court?

The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) is a U.S. Government agency that incorporates the Office of the Chief Immigration Judge and oversees the function of all U.S. Immigration Courts. The Immigration Courts are presided by Immigration Judges who hear all removal cases and make the ultimate decision whether to allow the respondent to remain in the U.S. legally, remove the respondent by order of deportation, or to grant the respondent a chance to leave on his own accord, called voluntary departure.

The most common type of proceeding before EOIR is the removal hearing. In these hearings, the agency that is responsible for enforcing federal immigration laws, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), charges and must prove that an alien is in the United States unlawfully and should be removed. EOIR does not have jurisdiction over an alien’s case unless DHS files charging documents with EOIR. Our Los Angeles immigration lawyers are experienced in assisting immigrants obtain and retain legal status. If you have been issued a Notice to Appear, do not delay contacting us.

Who is placed into removal proceedings by the U.S. Government?

A person may face removal from the United States for a variety of reasons. USCIS initiates removal proceedings against many types of non-citizens, including:

  • Noncitizens who entered the U.S. without going through Immigration inspection at the border, whether by crossing the U.S. border illegally from Canada or Mexico or by use of fraudulent documents;

  • Noncitizens attempting to enter the U.S. and who Homeland Security believes should not be entitled to enter (because they do not have a visa, they have fraudulent travel documents, or other reasons);

  • Temporary visa holders who entered the U.S. legally and stay in U.S. after their visa expires;

  • Applicants who apply for immigration benefits such as permanent residency or political asylum, or Naturalization (to become a US citizen) and are denied by Immigration;

  • Green Card holders who violated immigration laws, such as committing crimes in the U.S. Certain state law misdemeanors may make persons deportable, even if they have lived in the United States for many years.

  • Green Card holders who remained outside of the U.S. for extended periods of time and re-entered into U.S.

  • People who become a public charge within the first five years of being in the United States. A public charge is a person who becomes dependent on the U.S. government for financial assistance. The rules governing the definition of who is a public charge are complex and depend on what kind of financial assistance a person received from which U.S. government agency.

Removal cases are decided by Immigration Judges, who are part of the EOIR, which is part of the U.S. Department of Justice. The government is represented by an attorney who works for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Removal proceedings are administrative cases. They are not criminal cases, and the person will not be appointed a lawyer by the U.S. government. However, all persons in removal proceedings have the right to be represented by a lawyer. The rules governing removal from the United States are very complex. It is not the job of the government attorney or the Immigration Judge to find a reason why a person should not be removed from the United States. This is why it is best to have an attorney representing the person facing removal.

It is highly recommended that you seek experienced legal counsel if you are in removal proceedings. Our U.S. immigration lawyers are ready to help you now and offer a free consultation. Contact us now.

How can a removal proceeding be terminated by the Immigration Judge and ICE?

There are two ways that removal proceedings may be terminated. First, if the immigration judge grants relief allowing an individual to remain in the U.S. in some sort of legal status, then proceedings are terminated. Second, a less common means for termination, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may elect to terminate proceedings because it has decided that seeking removal in a particular case is no longer in the interests of the government. Although the DHS has exclusive authority to issue and to decide whether to file a Notice to Appear in immigration court, once removal proceedings have been initiated, DHS becomes a party to litigation and only the immigration judge has the authority to terminate removal proceedings. If you are facing deportation, you’ll need a removal defense lawyer who understands the complexities of immigration law and has specific expertise in representing clients before the immigration courts. When you consult with our attorneys, we will analyze your immigration history and frankly discuss with you your chances for avoiding deportation.

Can I ask the Board of Immigration Appeals to review the decision of the Immigration Judge?

During the course of your removal case, the Immigration Judge may say numerous things that you do not agree with, and make lots of decisions that you do not like. However, you can appeal after the judge has made a final decision and issued an order in your removal. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) reviews the decisions made by the Immigration Judge. The BIA is located in Virginia and almost all of the proceedings before it are conducted on paper. The BIA has very strict rules about how to file and prepare an appeal. Failure to follow these rules may result in your appeal being dismissed. For more information on how you can appeal your case with the BIA, please see our section on how to file an appeal.

Can I file for an appeal in the United States District Courts?

If you were ordered removed by a final administrative order and held without bond, you may still have recourse through a habeas corpus petition. Habeas petitions challenge removal orders, claim ineffective assistance of counsel, or assert unconstitutional detention. Habeas Corpus relief is also available to challenge removal orders based on criminal convictions. While the REAL ID Act bars non-citizens from the right of habeas corpus review in federal district courts for most detention and deportation orders, an alternative recourse is available before the U.S. courts of appeal. For more information on how you can appealing your case in the U.S. district courts, please see our section on how to file an appeal.

Can I Appeal of an Order for Removal in a United States Circuit Court?

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) also confers Federal court jurisdiction over certain decisions appealed from the BIA. If you wish to challenge the BIA’s decision that you are removable, you must do so by filing a Petition for Review with the federal Court of Appeals that had jurisdiction over the immigration court where your immigration hearing was held. Your Petition for Review must be filed within 30 days of the BIA decision you are appealing.

Petitions for review may be filed in the U.S. circuit courts of appeal to obtain review of a decision of deportation, exclusion or removal issued by the Board of Immigration Appeals. In addition, a petition for review may be filed to obtain review of a removal order issued by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) under certain provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The challenges to decisions made by the BIA or ICE involve legal, constitutional, factual, or discretionary claims. The REAL ID Act expands the jurisdiction of the courts of appeals to consider, on petition for review, certain issues that were previously precluded. For more information on how you can appealing your case in the U.S. circuit courts, please see our section on how to file an appeal.

If you previously have received a deportation order, we may be able to help you apply for relief from removal. Call us today to talk about what we can do to help you with your deportation case so that you can stay in the United States. Our experienced Los Angeles immigration and removal attorneys are ready to provide you with expert legal counsel.

What are the consequences of an Order of Removal issued by ICE?

If you had a removal (or deportation) hearing in Immigration Court and were not granted any form of relief, then the Immigration Judge most likely ordered you removed from the United States. Similarly, if you did not attend your scheduled hearing, then the IJ probably ordered you removed in absentia, meaning “in your absence.” Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) should not enforce an Order of Removal until it is final, which may depend on the circumstances of your case. For more information on what happens after removal becomes final, please read more here.

In some cases, you may receive a letter from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to report at a certain time and place. For more information on what to do if you receive a letter from ICE, please refer to our section on reporting to ICE here.

You may have been granted voluntary departure from USCIS. This is different from self-deportation. Read our sections on voluntary departures and self-deportation for additional information.

Can I appeal a removal order from ICE?

It may be possible for you to appeal an order of removal from ICE. For more information on the 30-day window to file an appeal, please read more in our section on appealing an order of removal from ICE.

Reinstatement of an Order of Removal from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

A person who has been removed and illegally re-enters the United States may be subject to reinstatement of removal under Immigration and Nationality Act Section 241(a)(5). To find out if you are subject to a reinstatement of removal, or if an order already exists, visit our section on Reinstatement of Removal here.

I missed my removal hearing, now what?

When you fail to appear for a hearing, and the government has proof that you were notified of the hearing, then the immigration judge must issue a removal order. Your failure to appear for a scheduled removal hearing most likely means that you were ordered removed in absentia by the judge. For more information about an order of removal in absentia, please read more here.

You may be able to reopen your removal proceedings in immigration court. This is only an option in a limited number of situations. For more information to help you determine if this is possible for you, please read more in our section on motions to reopen removal proceedings.

If you have missed your removal hearing and would like to explore other options you may have to remain in the U.S., contact our experienced immigration attorneys. If you hire our firm, your attorney will accompany you to every court hearing and speak on your behalf. We will work with you to prepare the best defense for your case. Don’t hesitate to call or email us today.

What Relief from Removal is available in immigration court?

When an Immigration Judge has found that you are a noncitizen and are illegally present in the United States, it does not necessarily mean that you must be deported. You may want to challenge the government’s claim that you are removable. Once the court has determined that you are removable, you may ask the court to determine whether you are eligible for relief from removal. There are different types of relief available depending on various factors.

Immigration law provides many defenses to prevent removal or deportation, and the most commonly used defenses are listed below. Each method of relief from removal can be explored by clicking on the links below:

  • Defensive Asylum

  • Withholding of Removal or Deportation

  • Convention Against Torture (CAT)

  • Cancellation of Removal

    • for Non-Permanent Residents

    • for Permanent Residents

  • Adjustment of Status to Permanent Residence

  • Temporary Protected Status

  • Contested Hearing - You may contest the hearing if you are or there are other reasons that you think that the government is erroneously trying to deport you.

  • Prosecutorial Discretion - You may be able to ask for alternate relief from the prosecutor, though deferred action. You may be eligible for:

    • Deferred action

    • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

Citizenship If you are a U.S. citizen already, you should be able to prove your rights to stay in the U.S. For more information, visit our section on relief from removal through citizenship.

If you are facing deportation, you’ll need a removal defense lawyer who understands the complexities of immigration law and has specific expertise in representing clients before the immigration courts. Our experienced immigration attorneys know what types of relief you may be eligible for, and we will work to keep you here. Call or email JCS Immigration and Visa Law Office today.