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Understanding The United States’ Deportation Process And Timeline

Understanding The United States’ Deportation Process And Timeline

Many people face deportation proceedings in the United States every year. The US deportation process is lengthy and complicated, and in some cases, it may take years. In most instances, an individual can’t be removed without first appearing before an immigration judge.

Many people might find it hard to believe that it may take years and even decades for a non-citizen to be removed and deported from the US. This is largely due to the massive backlog of immigration courts and the aggressive and competent representation of the attorney fighting the removal.

However, the timeline of the deportation proceedings depends on the immigrant’s country of origin and whether ICE has the necessary documentation to get a country’s consent for the final removal order to be issued. Some immigrants, such as those from Mexico, can be removed quickly.

They can be removed within a week to two weeks of the final removal order being issued. On the other hand, immigrants from certain countries may never be removed by ICE. These countries refuse to accept individuals being removed from the US, and ICE can’t obtain the necessary documentation.

The results of the deportation proceedings, whether swift or slow, can profoundly impact your life. That is why it is always in your best interest to have experienced, professional immigration lawyers on your side going into the deportation proceedings.

If you or someone close to you is being investigated or facing removal, there are several steps that take place before the final decision is made. You can also contest your removal in a court of law. Keep reading to find out more about the deportation process and timeline.

What is deportation?

When the US government no longer intends for you to remain in the US, it begins the deportation process, which is known as “deportation proceedings” or “removal proceedings.” It is an administrative procedure against a non-citizen who is residing in the United States.

It involves removing non-citizens from the United States back to the country from which they immigrated. The removal can be done voluntarily or by force. It can also serve as a sanction for violations of US laws, such as immigration laws. Deportation formally begins with the individual facing the immigration court, where the judge will decide whether the individual is to be removed from the United States.

Before that, however, the process begins informally. That is when the immigration authorities first become aware of an immigrant’s immigration status in the US. An immigrant may come under the radar of the immigration authorities. This may be after they are apprehended for a criminal offense, a workplace arrest, or a tip-off from an unnamed caller.

A removal order is a set of orders issued by an immigration judge to remove an individual from the country. Sometimes, the individual will not be allowed to return to the United States for a while, even if they have family members. That is why many people work with a skilled immigration lawyer.

The judge doesn’t have to decide whether you should be sent back to your country. In the vast majority of cases, an experienced immigration lawyer can persuade the judge to make the right decision by providing you with the necessary legal assistance and avoiding a deportation order. This is why you should take advantage of having an immigration lawyer.

The deportation processes

The process starts with an ICE Notice to Appear and is typically followed by multiple court hearings and appeals, then detention and removal for individuals who lose their cases.

Your case will be heard by a single judge at the immigration court level. On appeal, it will be heard by a panel of immigration court appeals (BIA) judges. Your case will be heard based on whether you have access to a lawyer, your criminal record, and other factors.

Keep in mind that even if you are found not removable in a court of law, ICE may file an appeal. Specifically, the deportation proceedings involve quite several steps that are strictly followed. These steps usually include:

1. The notice to appear.

The deportation proceedings begin when the respondent is served with a notice to appear. The immigration authorities issue the notice to appear and will state the grounds for the deportation. Before the respondent receives a notice to appear, they may have been interviewed or contacted by law enforcement, federal officials, or ICE. They are searching for probable cause to initiate deportation proceedings.

2. The master calendar hearing.

Once the NTA is received, the next step is to schedule hearings and court dates. The first hearing date may be set by the notice to appear, or the respondent may receive a notice of a hearing. The respondent may appear for the first time at a master calendar hearing. During this preliminary hearing, the judge informs you of your formal charges and allows you to either confirm or deny those charges.

For ICE detainees, detained hearings typically occur within 10-20 days. For non-detainees, a hearing date may take several months after receiving the notice to appear.

3. The merits hearing.

If the respondent contests the deportation proceedings, the court will schedule a second hearing, also known as a hearing on the merits. The respondent may ask for additional time to locate an attorney.

The merits hearing is when you can present evidence, testimony, and arguments supporting your opposition to being removed from the United States. These arguments may be in the form of proving that you are, in fact, not a deportable alien under the law or that you should be allowed to stay in the United States even though you are a deportable alien.

Depending on the circumstances of your case, the merits hearing can last anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days. It is often referred to as a trial because it has many of the same elements as a criminal or civil trial.

The length of the merit proceedings will depend on the complexity of the facts. A straightforward case can be settled in as little as a couple of hours in a single appearance. On the other hand, a complex immigration case may take several months to resolve. Ultimately, the court will reach a verdict and will either do so in open court or take time to prepare a written decision with its findings.

4. The decision.

When the judge finds a respondent to be removable and denies relief, the removal order is entered at the end of a merits hearing (although it is not unusual for the judge to schedule an additional hearing to make a decision).

5. The appeal.

After this, you have 30 days to file a Notice of Appeal. Appeals can take years, depending on the complexity of your case and the backlog of cases before the BIA. A Notice of Appeal provides immediate relief because, in most cases, it automatically prevents the government from enforcing the removal order before the BIA can consider your appeal.

If the BIA confirms the removal order, the next step would be to file a petition with the Federal Courts. While some respondents take this route, most people don’t file petitions with the Federal Courts because it is complicated and costly.

6. Deportation.

If all appeals have been exhausted, no further action may be taken in the deportation proceedings. In this situation, the respondent will be detained by ICE. Once ICE has apprehended the respondent, they will be physically removed from the country. This is done once the receiving country has agreed to receive the defendant. The necessary travel papers must be ready.

The deportation proceedings timeline

The length of the deportation proceedings varies. Some cases can take months, while others can take several years. The length of the proceedings depends on the judge assigned to the case. Some judges are backlogged for three years when scheduling merits hearings.

This means that the timeline of the deportation proceedings will depend on the individual case. In addition, some cases may be eligible for an accelerated removal process, which can result in an expedited removal order being issued in a few weeks. On average, the deportation proceedings can take three years or more.

Things that affect the deportation proceedings timeline

It is impossible to predict exactly how long the deportation proceedings will take, but there are things that can speed up or slow down the process.

In other words, there are several things that can speed up or delay the deportation proceedings. Here are some of the most common things that can affect the timeline of the removal process:

1. How long have you been in the US?

In the past, only those with less than two weeks stay were eligible for swift removal without needing a court hearing. However, that has recently changed, and individuals with up to two years of residency in the United States are now eligible for swift removal.

2. Your distance from the border.

To be eligible for swift removal, an individual must have been arrested within a 100-mile radius of a US land border or a coastal border. Since most of the US population lives within a 100-mile radius of an American land border, an estimated 200 million people live within that 100-mile radius. Some states, such as Florida, are 100 miles from an American land border.

3. Being an earlier deportee.

A person who has been deported before will most likely face swift deportation. This is especially if the person re-entered the US without proper approval to re-enter the US.

4. Criminal records.

The ICE has stated that its primary objective is to remove illegal immigrants who have committed criminal offenses. Those who are honest and law-abiding are much less likely to be apprehended for deportation purposes.

5. Being subject to persecution in your home country.

Immigrants who could be removed quickly but who fear persecution or torture upon return to their home country can seek asylum before US immigration courts in a variety of ways.

Get help!

If you face deportation proceedings in the US, don’t back down. Immigration law can be complex and difficult to understand. However, when you hire an experienced immigration lawyer, you can know how to fight for your right to remain in the US.

At Gehi and Associates, our immigration lawyers have the skill and experience in this area, and we are here to help. We will fight your deportation case. Nobody should have to walk away from their life in the US without knowing what steps must be taken or how the deportation proceedings work.

Call us today so our immigration lawyers can review your case with you and give you personalized advice on how to fight your removal case!

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