How does the deportation process work?

People come to the United States from all over the world seeking the American dream. Many come from destitute and squalor or countries plagued with tyranny with the hope of creating better lives for themselves and their families.

But sometimes immigrants are so desperate to come to America they do not go through all the proper channels. Being in the U.S. illegally – either from unlawful entry or from overstaying a visa – could result in an immigrant’s removal through deportation.

What is deportation?

According to the federal government, “Deportation is the formal removal of a foreign national from the U.S. for violating an immigration law.” In short, deportation is the government forcing an immigrant to leave the country.

There are many reasons the government may seek deportation, sometimes, even, for people who are lawful permanent residents. Some things that may lead to deportation include committing a crime, being deemed a threat to public safety or violating a condition of their visa.

The deportation process

If the government is seeking your removal through deportation, they must go through several steps:

  1. A customs agent will serve you a Notice to Appear (NTA). The NTA also goes to the courts. The NTA will have all your basic information and the reason for your deportation.
  2. A hearing is schedule. The judge will ask you if you wish to proceed or if you need more time to seek legal help.
  3. Once you seek legal counsel, or proceed representing yourself, you will be asked to verify the information in the NTA is correct.
  4. If the judge rules your NTA is correct and you are deportable, you will have the option to file for relief from deportation if you are eligible. If you are not eligible, the deportation will proceed.
  5. In a hearing, you may speak to the court or have witnesses speak on your behalf. The judge will either then announce a ruling, or he or she will release a written decision later.
  6. After an order of deportation, you have 30 days to appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). If the BIA rejects your appeal, you can then appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Seeking help

No one want to have to leave their home, especially when they’ve come to the U.S. to make a new life. If you or a loved one is facing deportation, you must act fast. The proceedings can be long, confusing and impersonal. It’s a good idea to seek an attorney who can act on your behalf.