As an undocumented immigrant in the United States, it’s important to understand the many situations that can result in deportation or removal. If you’re unaware of the situations that can result in trouble, you’re more likely to make a mistake that leads you down this path.

Any unauthorized immigrant in the United States is subject to deportation for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to:

  • Falsifying documents to gain entry to the United States
  • Conviction of particular crimes
  • Unlawful voting
  • Aiding others in illegally gaining entry to the United States

Not only can deportation turn your life upside down, but it can make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to regain admission to the United States in the future.

Here’s how the deportation process typically works:

  • You will receive a Notice to Appear by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement: This letter contains your personal information, as well as a brief on the reasons for your deportation.
  • You’re informed of your hearing time and date: During this time, you have the opportunity to proceed or ask for more time to prepare, such as by securing legal help.
  • Final decision: If the judge decides in favor of deportation, you may have the opportunity to apply for some form of relief. If you don’t have this opportunity, a deportation order is put in place.
  • You can appeal the decision: If deportation is ordered, you have 30 days from the original decision to file an appeal with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). If you’re denied at this stage, you can then take your appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

The entire process begins with a Notice to Appear. While it’s scary to receive this notice from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, it’s not the end of the road. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll lose your right to remain in the United States.

Not only do you have the opportunity to defend yourself to the judge, but the appeals process is available to you.

Understanding how deportation works and the best way to protect your legal rights will position you to deal with anything that comes your way during this challenging time.