Hundreds of thousands of people are deported from the United States each year. It can be a stressful time for those who are getting deported, but you do not have to go through it on your own. When you are facing this prospect, there are a few things you can do to help yourself.
Start by finding yourself a good immigration attorney. In a deportation hearing, the government is not required to provide you with counsel, because it is considered a civil lawsuit. However, the government will have their own legal representative, so you will want a qualified advocate on your side. Choose a representative who is an immigration specialist. Many lawyers will provide a free consultation, so you can meet with them, get your questions answered, and decide if they are a good fit for you and your case.
Second, educate yourself. You need to know what to expect next, and what rights you are entitled to. Deportation proceedings begin with what is called a notice to appear, or NTA. If you are served with an NTA, you will be given a time and place to appear before a judge. Missing that hearing can be detrimental to your case. Meet with your immigration attorney as soon as you receive your notice and decide on the best course of action. While you will not be given a public defender, you are entitled to hire legal representation, and to have them present with you any time you are questioned and at your hearing. You are also entitled to an appeal of the decision. Understanding your rights can help you make good decisions and stand up for yourself.
There are several forms of relief from deportation. If you have been a legal permanent resident for at least five years, and have no record of a felony, you may qualify for a cancellation or a waiver of deportation. Relatives of citizens or permanent residents may be able to apply for an adjustment of status prior to or in conjunction with their deportation hearing. If you are facing deportation because you are in the US illegally, this process can enable you to remain in the country. Spouses or parents of US citizens might be able to avoid deportation if they can show that their absence will cause an extreme hardship to their family. In some cases, you may seek political asylum. Women who have been abused by their spouse may also submit a claim for asylum, and may be able to remain in the US.
Once you and your immigration lawyer have determined a course of action, begin to gather the necessary documentation you will need. For example, you may need to prove that you are a legal resident, so you will want to present your visa documentation, as well as proof of residency, which can include things like utility bills, a driver’s license, rental agreements, pay stubs, and others. Victims of abuse should obtain relevant police reports or medical records.
For some people, a voluntary departure is a good option. This course of action usually allows you to re-enter the country sooner and with fewer restrictions. If you need to file an appeal, keep in mind that you only have 30 days to do so, and that it can be a lengthy process, so you may need to make arrangements accordingly.