If you received a ‘Notice to Appear’ in Immigration Court, or were given an Immigration Hold while in custody, there are ways to stop deportation proceedings and stay in the United States legally. Time is of the essence, though, so you must act quickly.
While every case is unique, the following are five of the most common methods our Dallas Immigration Lawyers use to help stop deportation proceedings for our clients. One of them may be the right solution for you, but you must read through them carefully, as each has specific requirements and strict qualification standards.
Cancellation of Removal
Cancellation of removal is offered through the Immigration and Nationality Act and is the most common form of deportation relief. You can qualify by meeting certain criteria and making a strong argument for why you should be allowed to stay in the states. You can only apply for cancellation of removal if you have an open deportation or removal case in Immigration Court. It’s a discretionary form of relief, which means that even if you meet all of the basic criteria, the immigration judge can still deny your cancellation request and move your deportation forward. For that reason, it’s important to have legal representation.
Non-legal permanent residents must complete an application and show proof of the following:
- 10-years continuous residence in the U.S.
- No disqualifying criminal convictions
- You have displayed ‘good, moral character’ while in the U.S., and
- That a child, spouse, or dependent parent would suffer ‘exceptional and extremely unusual hardship’ due to your deportation
Legal permanent residents must complete an application and show proof of the following:
- 7-years legal residence in the U.S.
- 5-years of green card residence without commiting a crime or entering removal proceedings, and
- No convictions of ‘aggravated felony’
The U-Visa is a special form of deportation protection for victims of violent crime. The result of two federal laws, the U-Visa is available for immigrants of any legal status who have been the victim of a violent crime within U.S. borders. The visa provides temporary legal status for a four-year period. In return, you’re expected to cooperate with law enforcement to help solve your crime and bring your offender to justice. It’s a valid form of deportation relief and has provided many victims with much-needed sanctuary.
More information on the U-Visa can be found here, on our News & Resources page.
Adjustment of Status
An adjustment of status simply means that you become a lawful permanent resident and receive your green card. It’s available to non-immigrants who have a family member or employer who will petition on their behalf. With an adjustment of status, your deportation proceedings would be cancelled indefinitely.
For a family-based petition you must:
- Be married to a U.S. citizen
- Have a legal U.S. child that’s 21-years or older, or
- Have a U.S. citizen parent
For an employer-based petition, you must:
- Get your employer to file a form I-490 on your behalf, or
- File form I-526 if you’re an entrepreneur who intends to invest a good amount of capital into a U.S.-based business
Asylum is another very specialized form of deportation relief that’s available to immigrants who have suffered harm, or have a reasonable reason to fear harm, in their own native country based on race, religion, gender, nationality, political ideology, or membership in a particular persecuted group. For example, if you’re a member of the LGTB community, are a member of the Christian church, or oppose certain practices against women, and would be persecuted in your country for it, then you may qualify to receive asylum.
In order to qualify for asylum, you must apply within one year of your arrival in the United States. The only way to avoid this qualification is to show that there were ‘changed circumstances’ that prevented you from applying within the timeframe. For example, if the conditions of your native country changed after you already stayed in the U.S. for a year, or if personal circumstances such as illness prevented you from applying, then you may still be able to qualify for asylum. The USCIS website provides a list of bars to applying and qualifying for asylum, but you should speak to an attorney for details.
Sometimes there’s simply not an easy solution.
If you don’t qualify for any other form of deportation relief, and no other defense has worked, the best thing you may be able to do for yourself is voluntarily depart. Just like its name implies, this is where you depart the country voluntarily, without forcibly being deported.
The key benefit to a voluntary departure is that it leaves the window open for you to re-enter the U.S. legally at a later date. Voluntary departure must be requested at the beginning of your case, so it’s good practice to do so, no matter what. This way, if the judge does not grant you deportation relief, they can at least grant your request to leave voluntarily.
However, voluntary departure still has its qualifications. It can only be granted if:
- You were physically present in the U.S. for a year before your Notice to Appear
- You’ve had ‘good, moral character’ for the past 5 years
- You’re not being removed for an aggravated felony or terrorism
- You can post a voluntary departure bond and pay your way back into the country, and
- You’ve never received voluntary departure before
Help for Immigrants in Deportation Proceedings
The DFW area is home to over 1.23 million immigrants, many of whom make positive contributions to the local community and workforce. So, if you raise a family here or have learned to call Texas ‘home’, the words ‘deportation’ and ‘removal’ can strike fear in your heart and panic in your mind.
But all hope is not lost.
The immigration experts at Dallas Immigration Lawyers understand why you want to stay in the United States and know all of the avenues to try and keep you here. With over 20 years of immigration experience, we provide a hands-on and proactive approach that will make you feel included and always up-to-speed on what’s happening with your case. Schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation and options with our dedicated immigration team.