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.

Voluntary Departure

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.



Much too often, we hear about an undocumented victim who suffered from domestic or other abuse but never reported it to the authorities –  until it was too late and something far worse happened. And all because they were afraid that the authorities would deport them as soon as they told their story.

But if you’re an undocumented immigrant in Texas and the victim of a violent crime, there is no need for you to suffer alone. Thanks to a much-needed piece of legislation, Congress may have provided you with an opportunity to receive help and protection through the U-Visa.

In October 2000, Congress passed the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Act and the Battered Women’s Immigrant Protection Act. With the passage of these two laws, the U-Visa was born and has since helped tens of thousands of migrant women and men to receive temporary legal status while U.S. law enforcement officers worked to investigate and prosecute the criminals who harmed them. It’s often a win-win situation for both victims and law enforcement agencies alike.

How the U-Visa Works

More technically known as the ‘U Nonimmigrant Visa’, the U-Visa was designed to protect non-citizen victims of criminal activity, regardless of what their immigration status is. So, even if you’re a completely undocumented immigrant, the U-Visa may still provide you with protection from deportation. In fact, you can even have a current deportation order and still apply for the U-Visa if you meet the eligibility requirements discussed below.

What the U-Visa does is provides you with temporary legal status for a four-year period. During that period, you’re expected to cooperate with law enforcement to help investigate the crimes against you. After three years, you can apply for permanent residence status, even if the crime has already been solved or the case against your perpetrator closed. If you don’t apply for permanent status by the end of the four-year period, then your temporary protection expires and you’ll be expected to return to your native nation. However, if you follow the rules and cooperate with law enforcement, there should be no need for that to happen.

The real benefit of the U-Visa is that it can provide you with several layers of protection.  If your perpetrator is your husband or significant other, for example, you will not be required by law to leave or divorce them in order to qualify for the U-Visa. Also, if the perpetrator is not convicted, your temporary legal status will still be protected. In other words, if the offender is found innocent or the charges are dismissed, your temporary legal status won’t just suddenly end. The entire point of the U-Visa is to protect you from deportation so that you can cooperate with and help the authorities. As long as you’re cooperating, regardless of the outcome of the case, your temporary status will stay intact for the full four years.

Your privacy will also be protected. Your application for a U-Visa won’t be public record so the offender won’t have any way of finding out that you have protected status. Additionally, if you have unmarried children under the age of 21 or a spouse who is not the offender, you can apply for U-Visa’s for them, as well, so that there’s no fear of your family being separated.

Finally, during the four-year period, you will receive work authorization so that your ability to find legal employment is also protected.

U-Visa Eligibility

Eligibility for the U-Visa is very specific and you have to meet all of the requirements.

  • You have to be the victim of one of the qualifying criminal activities (discussed below).
  • As a result of the crime, you had to have suffered from physical or mental abuse and there must be documented proof of this.
  • One of the most important requirements is that you cooperate with law enforcement to help bring your offender to justice. This means that you must have some helpful information about the criminal activity that will be useful to the authorities. (Please understand that there are many factors to consider when determining whether or not your information is helpful.)
  • Finally, the criminal activity had to have occurred within U.S. territory or violated U.S. law.

Eligibility is dependent on the type of crime that occurred. Congress included a very specific list of the crimes which includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Domestic violence
  • Blackmail
  • Incest
  • Kidnapping
  • Rape
  • Torture
  • False imprisonment
  • Stalking
  • Human trafficking, and
  • Murder

It’s important to note here that indirect victims can also qualify for U-Visa status. That means that if you were not the direct victim of a crime, such as murder, but you’re immediately related to the victim and it’s affected you mentally, then you may still qualify for a U-Visa. Indirect victims may also receive protection if their significant other, child, parent or guardian, or immediate family member was rendered permanently incompetent as a result of the violent crime against them. This can be incredibly beneficial to family members who were dependent on the victims and now have to rethink their survival and way of life.

How to Apply

As with all immigration applications, the process is tedious but possible to get through. Your application packet will include five key elements and documents:

  • A complete Form I-918, Application for U Nonimmigrant Status.
  • Form I-918, Supplement B, U Nonimmigrant Status Certification. This is basically a signed and notarized affidavit describing and confirming that you have information about the crime and that you have been, will be, or could possibly be helpful in the criminal investigation. This must be signed by a qualifying member of law enforcement.
  • A personal statement describing the circumstances of the crime against you.
  • Any additional evidence you may have to help prove that you were a victim of one of the qualifying crimes.
  • If you’re inadmissible, you’ll also need to submit the I-192 waiver.

Getting Help

Very few immigration matters are quick and easy. It’s highly recommended that you contact our office for help and guidance if you’re an immigrant who’s the victim of a violent crime. Not only is your status in the U.S. at stake but so is your well-being and safety. The team of attorneys at Dallas Immigration Lawyers can advise you on your rights, prepare the application packet for you, and represent you during the application and review process. Inquire about our services for more information.