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Risk Factors for Deportation

Following up on my recent blog “How to Stop Deportation and Removal,” I’d like to discuss the common triggers for deportation and removal proceedings.

Among the most common causes of deportations and removals are convictions for criminal offenses. Even seemingly minor criminal conduct, such as multiple shoplifting misdemeanors, can lead to deportation. For non-citizens charged with crimes, it is imperative that they inform their lawyers of their immigration status immediately, as this information may profoundly determine preparation for trial and other litigation tactics.  Other factors that place non-citizens at risk for deportation include:

  • Being physically present in the U.S. without legal status
  • Discovery of immigration fraud through sham marriages
  • Dissolution of the marriage of the conditional permanent resident
  • Assisting illegal entry to the U.S. by others
  • Immigration status violations
  • Immigration document fraud

Halting the deportation process

Needless to say, the best way to avoid deportation is to conscientiously avoid activities involving any of risk factors listed above.  However, once deportation and removal proceedings have begun, a number of defenses may be available, depending on the status of the non-citizen in proceedings.  While the most challenging cases to defend involve undocumented immigrants, these individuals may be able to adjust their status and obtain a green card based on family relationships in the U.S., or may be able to seek relief through asylum or refugee status.

For those who are lawfully present in the United States, such as green card holders or those with non-immigrant visas, a case against deportation may be built based on limited criminal history, strong family and community ties in the United States, the nature of the offense that triggered deportation, and other factors. The green card process is a very complicated one, which is why it’s important to have experienced New York immigration attorneys on your side.

Voluntary departure

If the chances of avoiding deportation (removal) are small to none, it may be in the noncitizen’s best interests to apply for voluntary departure.  If granted, it allows the noncitizen up to 120 days to leave on his/her own, at his/her own expense.  It is advisable to request voluntary departure before or at the start of removal hearings.  It is a much more difficult to obtain voluntary departure in subsequent stages of the immigration court proceedings.  The advantages of voluntary departure are as follows:

  • Up to 120 days will be given to wind up one’s affairs in the U.S., such as work, financial, and familial obligations.
  • Departure from the United States will be possible without an order of removal entered in one’s immigration record.
  • There will not be an automatic bar to entry at an U.S. port-of-entry, but it will still be necessary to qualify and apply for a new visa to re-enter the U.S.

If the noncitizen granted voluntary departure fails to leave the United States within the stipulated period of time, the voluntary departure order automatically changes into a removal order.  Another penalty of failing to depart is an automatic 10-year bar from any form of relief from removal such as adjustment of status and cancellation of removal.  However, this bar is only 5 years for those granted voluntary departure in 1995 or earlier.

To learn more about removal and deportation, contact Bretz & Coven, LLP.

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Immigration Consequences of Criminal and Fraudulent Conduct
The immigration consequences of criminal or fraudulent conduct can be harsh and often illogical. Even a very minor offense could have a dramatic immigration consequence, including deportation, detention without bond, being denied naturalization, a visa or re-entry into the United States. Likewise, the use of fake or fraudulent documents, aliases, and other misrepresentations can have similar immigration consequences. Kerry Bretz and Bretz & Coven have been counseling non-citizen criminal defendants, as well as their lawyers, for over 20 years. We have a long history of strategizing deportation and removal defenses, as well as applications for waivers, in very complicated cases.

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