Removal Proceedings before the Immigration Judge
If the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has initiated removal proceedings against you, you will be issued a Notice to Appear (NTA) in Immigration Court either via mail or in person where you will have to appear before an Immigration Judge to fight the charges that DHS brings against you. These charges may be due to a violation of the conditions of your visa, failure to have proper documentation to validate your entry into the United States, fraud, criminal charges or others. Often, the NTA does not contain the location, or date and time of your next immigration hearing, however, you will receive the notice in the mail separately. Therefore, be sure to keep the Immigration Court updated with your mailing address at all times.
The removal proceedings begin only once the trial attorney for the government has filed the NTA with the Court. You will initially appear for a Master Calendar hearing, the first hearing during which the Judge accepts the plea that you or your attorney (if represented) takes with respect to the charges contained in the NTA. Your attorney will have to either admit or deny the facts (or allegations) brought by DHS leading to your violations of the immigration laws and contained in the NTA and admit or deny the charges of removability that are brought against you.
Prior to admitting the allegations and charges, an experienced attorney in removal proceedings defense will closely research any defense that may exist in order to fight your removability. This is of the utmost importance since any concession before the Immigration Judge cannot be later retracted.
If the attorney admits to the facts and to the charges, the attorney will then name the forms of relief from removal available to you. There are multiple reliefs available to foreign nationals in removal proceedings:
- Voluntary Departure
- Asylum and withholding of removal
- Adjustment of Status
- Adjustment of status combined with a waiver of grounds of inadmissibility based on Section 212(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act for fraud or misrepresentation or 212(h)) for criminal convictions
- Cancellation of removal for non-legal permanent resident, and/or for battered spouse
- Cancellation of removal for legal permanent resident
- 212(c) waiver
- 237(a)(1)(H) waiver
- Removal of Conditions
- Temporary Protected Status
- T, U or V status
If relief is granted by the Immigration Judge, then your removal proceedings will be over and you can go on with your new granted status.
If relief is denied, an appeal can be filed with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) within 30 days of the date of the Immigration Judge’s decision.
Expedited Removal and Deferred Inspection
You can receive an order of expedited removal while trying to enter the United States if Customs and Border Protection (CBP) finds that you have previously violated your status, do not carry the proper documentation with you, that you lied about your true intention into coming to the U.S., or you have criminal convictions that qualify as violations under the immigration law or appear to be inadmissible for other reasons. They may also decide to send you for a deferred inspection appointment at your local office if you are already a legal permanent resident or if further investigation is necessary to determine your eligibility for admission.
An order of expedited removal will forbid you from entering the United States for five (5) years while any criminal conviction or fraudulent act will more often than not preclude you from reentering on a permanent basis.
If the documentation from CBP does not mention the term “exclusion” or a certain ban from reentering, then more than likely, you were just refused entry in the U.S. or withdrew your application for admission into the country.
The immigration laws surrounding the removal proceedings context are very specific and subject to various court interpretations. If you have been placed in removal proceedings, you should seriously consider hiring an experienced attorney to fight the charges that have been brought against you and to seek any possible relief that may be available to you. You increase your chances of remaining in the United States by hiring an experienced immigration attorney who will help prepare your claim and fight your case before the Immigration Judge.
Maud Poudat, Esquire is an experienced attorney in the removal proceedings context and has successfully helped countless clients remain in the United States at the Immigration Court level and the appellate level before the Board of Immigration Appeals. Since each case is unique, please be sure to contact our office so we can personally evaluate the facts of your case.