Immigration 101: Removal

It’s every immigrant’s worst nightmare: You’ve been arrested by US immigration officials, ordered to appear at a hearing before an immigration judge, and told you’ll probably be deported. You may be placed in detention. You’re probably very scared, confused about what is going on, and unsure of what you should do.

Your first step should be to contact an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney. If you can’t afford an attorney, you should contact one of the many free legal service organizationsthat serve low-income people. A list should have been provided to you after you were arrested. Having an experienced immigration attorney on your side is the best – and often the only – way to maximize your chances of winning your immigration case and being allowed to stay in the US.

You probably have a lot of questions about your situation, and about what will happen during your removal proceedings. The information on this website may help answer some of those questions. However, every case is unique, and no online resource can answer every question, or tell you everything you’ll need to know. There is no substitute for speaking with a qualified and experienced immigration attorney about the specific details of your case.

Your case will move through immigration court in a process called a “removal proceeding.” You may have heard the process called a “deportation proceeding,” but that term isn’t technically correct and has fallen out of use. Removal proceedings are designed to answer one critical question: Will you be allowed to stay in the US?

Finding an answer to that questions involves two phases: First, the court must decide that you are “removable,” meaning that you’re not lawfully entitled to be in the US. If the immigration judge decides that you are not removable, you win your case and you’ll be allowed to stay in the US. If the judge concludes that you are removable, then the case moves to the second phase. In the second phase, the immigration judge considers whether you might be eligible for any kind of relief from removal. If the judge grants your request for relief, you’ll be allowed to stay in the US.

Click the links below to learn more about the grounds for deportability that the government will use in determining whether or not you are deportable.

Non-Criminal Deportability Grounds

Criminal Deportability Grounds

This article is part of our ongoing “Immigration 101” series, in which we break down topics in US immigration law. For more articles in this series, click here.

The content in this post was originally written by Stuart Nickum and adapted by Lena Barouh.

Disclaimer: The content in this blog is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Nothing herein should be construed as legal advice or opinion. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact us.


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