What are the chances of avoiding deportation?

The government arrested an immigrant, sent a “Notice to Appear,” or issued an immigration hold. What are the chances that the immigrant can avoid deportation? Let’s try to get a general idea. Of course, every case is different, and this checklist cannot substitute for a case evaluation by an experienced attorney.

Up to now you had a valid green card or a valid visa and authorization to stay in the U.S. If not, skip to the next point.

(A) If you had a green card, the most likely reason you are now in proceedings is that you have been accused of or convicted of a crime. Not all crimes will lead to deportation, but domestic violence, firearms or drug violations, aggravated felonies very often will. If you already have been convicted, we would have to look closely at your record to see if post-conviction relief is available and would help you. In some cases, if you have been in the country for at least 7 years, and had a green card for at least 5 years, we might be able to have a judge let you stay. In other cases, you might be able to renew your visa with a waiver. If post-conviction relief is available, that will change or erase your convictions, so they are no longer a basis for deportation.
Post conviction relief can take a very long time, so it is important you consult us as soon as your conviction has been set. Also keep in mind, that parole violations can have very dire consequences and lead to deportation, even if your conviction by itself did not. “Expungement” of a conviction, which is offered in some states, does usually not help in immigration cases.
(B) If you had a visa and were authorized to stay for some time, the most likely reason you are now in proceedings is that you either overstayed, engaged in conduct that was not authorized by your visa (for example work), or have been accused or convicted of a crime. In some cases we can extend or renew your status, or change to another status, or even obtain permanent residence for you. This solution often is presented if you are married to an American citizen.
(C) If you cannot return to your country because you have a credible fear of persecution, you may qualify for asylum or some similar protection from deportation.
(D) In most cases we could ask the government to either exercise “prosecutorial discretion,” grant “parole,” or provide some other relief. If nothing else helps, we still might be able to at least have a judge grant you some time until you have to leave the country (voluntary departure). It doesn’t work in all cases, but at least we can ask.

You are currently without legal status but are the victim of domestic abuse or violence by your American citizen spouse or parent. In that case we might obtain legal permanent residence for you.

You are the victim of human trafficking, or a victim of another serious crime and have helped authorities in prosecuting that crime: we might be able to gain you authorization to stay in the U.S.

In most cases, you can appeal a removal order. However, appeals or motions, are under a very tight timeline. If you miss the date, in most cases you will not be able to file your appeal or motion. Sometimes, however, relief can be obtained even years after a negative decision.

These are the most typical cases when deportation can be avoided. However, it always depends on the individual circumstances of the immigrant. What works for one might not work for another. You need to consult an attorney to find out what will work for you.

You never had a green card or a valid visa, but entered the country without inspection.

(A) You have been caught by immigration because you had “no papers,” but you have never been convicted of any crime or only of very minor violations

and you have been living in the U.S. for at least 10 years without leaving the country except for very short times,

and you have a spouse, child, or a parent who is an American citizen or a legal permanent resident and for whom your deportation would mean an extreme hardship

then we might ask a judge to actually let you stay in the country and grant you legal permanent residency.

(B) You have been caught, but have not lived in the U.S. for at least 10 years, are otherwise qualified for relief, and are married to an American citizen or have an American citizen parent for whom your absence would be an extreme hardship, then we might be able to help you return to the U.S. upon a “waiver.”

(C) You might qualify for asylum or similar relief against persecution.