Few things are more alarming to an immigrant, whether a permanent resident or not, than the sudden appearance of a deportation order. If you find yourself facing this intimidating situation, read on to learn more about deportation orders and how a New York City immigration lawyer can help you today.

What Is a Deportation Order?

The Department of Homeland Security includes the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), as well as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Typically, ICE will be the one to detain noncitizens who they deem should not be in the country. A noncitizen may then go before an Immigration Judge. Immigration Judges work for the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) and, after various hearings, decide whether to issue a deportation order (also called a removal order). However, sometimes a noncitizen is subject to what is called expedited removal, and may be removed or deported without the opportunity of a hearing in immigration court.

If you are granted a hearing, an Immigration Judge will then decide if you should be deported. Some common reasons for deportation or removal include criminal convictions and fraudulent communications with United States immigration authorities. An Immigration Judge will also consider if you qualify for relief from deportation. If you do not, the judge will issue a deportation order.

What Forms of Relief from Deportation Are Available?

Even if an Immigration Judge issues a deportation order against you, there is still relief available.

First of all, you may appeal the deportation order, either by requesting a cancellation of that order from the court that issued it or by filing a complaint with DHS. That complaint will be processed by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), an administrative body within the Executive Office for Immigration Review.

The Board of Immigration Appeals is allowed to give you more time to remain in the country, to cancel deportation orders, and to protect you should ICE attempt to deport you. The BIA may decide the judge didn’t have enough evidence to decide to issue a deportation order. Or there may even be new laws passed to benefit individuals who aren’t charged with a crime but cannot return to their country of birth or residence due to fear of persecution.

Asylum is one of the oldest examples of such relief. Asylum is protection granted to foreign nationals already in the United States or ones at the border, who meet the definition of refugee under international law like the United Nations 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees and the United States Refugee Act of 1980. International law defines a refugee as, “someone who cannot or does not wish to return to their country of birth or residence, because they cannot obtain protection due either to past persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” Individuals who qualify for asylum are granted comparatively broad protections. For example, they cannot be returned to their home country, they can apply for a social security card, and they can petition for family members to join them in the United States.

Another wide form of immigration relief is called cancellation of deportation. Both lawful permanent residents (who have been granted permission to reside in the United States but, given specific circumstances, may still be deported) as well as non-permanent residents may seek cancellation of deportation. However, the requirements for each are different.

Lawful permanent residents must show that they have held the status of lawful permanent resident for at least 5 years and that they have continuously resided in the United States for at least 7 years. They also cannot have been convicted of an aggravated felony, if they seek cancellation of removal.

Non-permanent residents in the United States must have been physically present in the country for at least 10 years continuously. During those 10 years, they must have exhibited good moral character and cannot have committed specific criminal offenses. Finally, the defense must show that deportation would cause exceptional or extremely unusual hardship to any United States citizen or lawful permanent resident family members of the person in danger of deportation.

Who Can Help Me if I Receive a Deportation Order?

Immigrants, particularly undocumented immigrants, occupy a uniquely vulnerable place in American jurisprudence. They are subject to the force of specialized agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement or Customs and Border Patrol all maintain a watchful eye on the arrival and departure of foreign nationals. If you and/or a loved one find yourselves facing a deportation order, contact us right away so we can get started on your defense.