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United States Removal or Deportation Proceedings

United States Removal or Deportation Proceedings

It is overwhelming and intimidating to go through removal or deportation proceedings. Many individuals and families may feel that removal or deportation proceedings uproot and throw their entire lives into chaos.

You don’t have to go through this process alone—our expert attorneys at Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C. are here to help you navigate the complicated laws and regulations of removal proceedings. We understand that your most important goals are to reunite with your family, remain in the U.S., or both. We will use our experience and knowledge of immigration law to develop the best legal strategy for your case.

In this article, you will learn more about removal proceedings and how our attorneys at Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C. can help.

What Is Deportation?

Deportation and removal have the same meaning. While “removal” is the legal term, it is often used interchangeably with “deportation.” 

Deportation involves three primary stages:

  1. Initiation of removal proceedings
  2. Issuance of a deportation order
  3. The act of removal/deportation

The first stage, removal proceedings, is where the deportation process begins. In this article, we will concentrate on removal proceedings and explore potential strategies for handling your specific case.

What are Immigration Removal Proceedings?

The removal proceeding happens when the government starts the process for an order of removal. In this case, an immigration judge or officer will determine whether you can remain in the United States. The U.S. government can initiate removal proceedings against anyone in the country illegally, meaning they did not go through proper channels to enter or remain in the U.S.

Those inside the country on a visa or other temporary status may also be subject to removal proceedings if their authorization expires or if they violate any of the terms of their status.

Who Can Be Removed?

The grounds for deporting people are established under Code 8 U.S.C. § 1227. 

Common causes of removal proceedings include:

  • Violation of green card status terms
  • Marriage fraud
  • Residing in the U.S. without proper legal immigration status
  • Overstaying visa
  • Involvement in criminal activity
  • They were inadmissible during adjustment of status or while entering the U.S.

There are many other reasons why an individual may be placed into removal proceedings. Usually, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will accuse non-U.S. citizens of violating a law that can render them removable.

Deportation Process Timeline

Removal proceedings are conducted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The DHS will first serve the non-citizen with a Notice to Appear (NTA). The NTA will cover information such as the alleged grounds for removal and your right to have an attorney.

Master Calendar Hearing

The first hearing is referred to as the master calendar hearing. You must arrive in person at your hearing date or you will be issued an automatic removal. You can bring your attorney with you to this meeting.

Merit Hearing

You and your removal and deportation defense lawyer will look at options for the next steps. If you devise a plan to defend against your removal, such as using an adjustment of status approach, you will move on to the next step. The merit hearing or hearings allow you and your immigration lawyer to present your case. Your attorney can help you gather evidence and conduct questions for the merit hearings.

The attorneys at Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C. represent clients throughout all stages of removal proceedings. We have experience in a variety of circumstances.

What Are Your Options to Avoid Deportation?

You may feel overwhelmed and uncertain when you or a loved one is at risk of deportation. We’ve outlined several options to avoid a formal removal process from the United States.

Tips on How to Avoid a Formal Removal Process From the U.S

Adjustment of Status

An adjustment of status (AOS) is an application for immigrants located in the U.S. who want to change their status to lawful permanent resident (LPR). However, individuals can also use AOS as a defense during removal proceedings.

When facing removal proceedings, an individual can adjust their status based on their marriage or relationship to a U.S. Citizen or LPR. The USCIS will review and either approve or deny an I-130 petition (the form you complete to file for AOS). An immigration lawyer at Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C. can help you with AOS paperwork and defend you throughout the removal process.

Learn More About Adjustment of Status


If you are facing removal proceedings and cannot or do not want to return to your home country due to persecution, you may be eligible to apply for asylum.

Foreign nationals who can demonstrate that they have been or will likely face persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group can apply for asylum.

The asylum application process varies depending on whether you are in the process of being deported or not. Individuals who are facing removal proceedings have different requirements and deadlines compared to those who are not in removal proceedings.

If you are in removal proceedings and intend to apply for asylum, you must inform the immigration judge and submit your application before the deadline. You must also demonstrate that you meet the legal definition of a refugee.

If you are not facing removal proceedings, you can submit your asylum application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You must also meet the same legal definition of a refugee.

It is critical to seek legal assistance from an immigration lawyer familiar with the asylum application process as soon as possible. They can help you navigate complex requirements and procedures and work to protect your rights throughout the process.

Learn More About Political Asylum

Cancellation of Removal

Foreign nationals facing removal proceedings may be able to fight deportation by applying for cancellation of removal. This application can waive certain immigration violations, depending on the circumstances.

To be eligible for cancellation of removal, you must meet specific requirements, such as proving that you have been physically present in the United States for a certain number of years and that your removal would cause exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, child, or parent.

If an individual successfully obtains a cancellation of removal, they become eligible to keep or obtain permanent residency in the United States. This can be a complex legal process. It is highly recommended to seek the guidance of an experienced immigration lawyer who can provide the necessary support and help you navigate the legal requirements.

Learn More About Cancellation of Removal

Withholding of Removal

Withholding of removal is intended for foreign nationals who can prove there is a significant chance they will be

Withholding of removal is intended for foreign nationals who can prove there is a significant chance they will be persecuted in their home country or country of origin if they return. Anyone granted withholding of removal is protected from being deported to the country where they fear persecution.

This option is similar to asylum but inferior in several ways. The primary difference between the two is the level of proof required to be eligible. To qualify for asylum, applicants must demonstrate a well-founded fear of persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.

In contrast, to be eligible for withholding of removal, an applicant must demonstrate that it is more likely than not they will face persecution if they return to their home country.

Another difference is the benefits available. An individual can apply for permanent residency in the United States if granted asylum. However, withholding of removal does not provide individuals with the right to work in the U.S. or travel outside the country. In addition, withholding of removal does not provide a path to permanent residency or citizenship.

persecuted in their home country or country of origin upon return. Anyone granted withholding of removal is protected from being deported to the country where they fear persecution.

This option is inferior to asylum in several ways, but certain crimes that disqualify applicants from securing asylum do not make them ineligible from withholding of removal.

Learn More About Withholding of Removal

Convention Against Torture

The Convention Against Torture (CAT) is an uncommon form of protection granted to foreign nationals who fear torture in their country of origin or home country, either directly by the government or with its tacit approval.

In cases where foreign nationals are ineligible for withholding removal and asylum, CAT may be their only recourse to remain in the United States. Under CAT, individuals must demonstrate that it is more likely than not that they will face torture if returned to their home country. If approved, CAT protects them from removal but does not lead to lawful permanent resident status or citizenship.

We strongly suggest consulting with an experienced immigration lawyer to ensure you meet all the legal requirements and deadlines for filing a CAT application.

Learn More About Convention Against Torture

INA 212(h) Waivers

212(h) waivers are part of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Generally used alongside AOS, they authorize discretionary waivers of certain inadmissible crimes. INA 212(h) waivers are often used for people who are inadmissible to the U.S. due to criminal convictions.

These waivers can provide a deportation defense if applicants prove they have been rehabilitated, are not a threat to national welfare and safety, and the criminal activity occurred more than 15 years before they applied for entry into the U.S.

The application process can be complex and requires careful consideration of specific circumstances. It’s essential to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to assess eligibility and determine the best course of action.

Learn More About 212(h) Waivers

Voluntary Departure

You always have the option for voluntary departure. This is a preferable alternative for those who want to avoid the negative consequences of a deportation order.

A formal deportation order often includes a 10-year bar on re-entry to the U.S. With a voluntary departure, the individual is not subject to this penalty and may be able to reapply for admission to the U.S. later.

Individuals also maintain control over their departure from the U.S. through voluntary departure rather than being forcibly removed by immigration authorities. This is a beneficial option for individuals who have established lives in the U.S. and wish to leave on their own terms.
However, it’s important to note that voluntary departure may require individuals to pay for their travel expenses and leave the U.S. within a specific timeframe.

Additionally, immigration authorities may subject individuals to additional penalties and formal deportation orders if they fail to leave within the designated timeframe or meet other conditions of voluntary departure.

Learn More About Voluntary Departure

Contact an Attorney

At Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C., we are here to provide you with the high-quality and affordable representation you need to fight against removal proceedings. Our Chicago removal and deportation defense attorney firm will be with you every step of the way as we navigate removal proceeding options. 

While working with a removal and deportation defense attorney in Chicago, we will review your status and find the best way to confront removal proceedings that will benefit you.

Contact a member of our team today at 312.444.1940.

For questions and/or to arrange a consultation with one of our attorneys contact us now

We're looking forward to hearing from you!