Removal Proceedings, Deportation Defense, and Voluntary Departure Assistance

Removal Proceedings/Deportation Defense

“Removal” is another word for deportation. “Removal proceedings” refers to the process of appearing before the Immigration Judge in Immigration Court to answer to charges that a person is removable, or deportable from the United States.

A person may be removable from the United States for many different reasons.  These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Unlawful entry to the United States
  • Lawful entry to the United States, but overstayed authorized period of stay
  • Commission or conviction of certain crimes
  • Fraud issues

Forms of Relief to Removal

There are many different forms of relief that may be available to someone in removal proceedings.  These include, but are not limited to, the following:

Adjustment of Status

Adjustment of status refers to obtaining lawful permanent resident status for someone who is physically present in the United States based on an approved family or employment petition.

Cancellation of Removal and Adjustment of Status for Non-Lawful Permanent Residents

This form of relief is available for persons who can show the following:

  • 10 years of continuous physical presence in the U.S.;
  • 10 years of good moral character;
  • Is not barred due to criminal acts; and
  • Can show exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident parent, spouse, or child.

Cancellation of Removal for Lawful Permanent Residents

This relief is available for lawful permanent residents who meet the following conditions:

  • Has had lawful permanent resident status for at least 5 years;
  • Has been continuously physically present in the U.S. for at least 7 years; and
  • Is not barred by certain criminal acts.

VAWA Cancellation of Removal and Adjustment of Status

A person qualifies for VAWA cancellation of removal if he or she meets the following requirements:

  • Has resided continuously in the United States for three years;
  • Suffered physical or emotional abuse by a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, parent, or child;
  • Is not barred by certain criminal acts;
  • Can show extreme hardship to the applicant and/or applicant’s U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident parent, spouse, or child; and
  • Is a person of good moral character

Asylum/Withholding of Removal

If you have been harmed in your country or think you would be harmed in your country, you may be able to apply for asylum in the United States.  To be eligible for asylum, you will have to establish that you were or would be harmed either by your country’s government or somebody that your government cannot control. You have to establish that you were or would be harmed because of your race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.

If you are granted asylum, you are allowed to live and work in the United States and are eligible for federal benefits. You can also file for your spouse and children to join you in the United States if they are still back home or elsewhere. One year after you are granted asylum, you can get permanent residence (a green card) and can be on the path to citizenship. See Asylum section for more information.



If you are in removal proceedings in Immigration Court, and do not have any relief available to you, we can negotiate with ICE or request from the judge that you be given the privilege of voluntary departure.  Voluntary departure allows a person to leave the U.S. voluntarily, without having to incur an order of removal.  The benefit to this is that the person has the freedom to leave how and when he or she wants, provided he or she leaves by the deadline and complies with the terms of voluntary departure.  In addition, a recipient of voluntary departure is NOT barred for ten years from returning to the United States as a result of an order of removal.  Usually an applicant has between 30 and 120 days in which to leave, and must pay a bond to Immigration and Customs Enforcement within five days of receiving voluntary departure.


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