Receiving a deportation letter is a devastating event. Unfortunately, this devastating occurrence is happening to many people in the U.S. these days. If you’re one of these people, you’re probably scared, confused, and wondering what happens next.
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take that may allow you to stay in the country. Not everyone who receives a deportation letter ends up having to leave. If you can convince the court to re-try or reexamine your case, you may be able to avoid deportation.
Here are some things you can do after receiving a deportation letter.
Talk to an Immigration Lawyer
As soon as you find out that the judge had ordered your deportation, get in touch with an immigration lawyer. Immigration law is complicated, especially since the laws are changing frequently under the current administration. You’ll need help to figure out what steps you need to take next.
Worried that you can’t afford a lawyer? There are services in all 50 states that will help you find a lawyer who will take your case pro bono, which means for free. You have a right to legal representation, but immigration courts aren’t required to provide you with a lawyer. So, you will have to do the footwork to find one on your own.
Determine if You Have Basis for an Appeal
Depending on the circumstances of your case and what’s going on with you and your family, you may have a basis to appeal the decision about your deportation. It’s important to review your case with an immigration lawyer to see if you have a valid reason to appeal. A lawyer who is licensed to practice immigration law will have to help you file the appeal.
Here are a few reasons you may be able to get an appeal:
You Weren’t Present at Your Hearing
When you don’t show up for your immigration hearing, it’s still possible for the judge to issue a deportation order. If you’re able to provide the judge with a sufficient reason why you weren’t at the hearing, they may reopen your case.
There are two circumstances that usually suffice as a reason for missing your hearing: you didn’t receive notice of your hearing or you had extenuating life circumstances. You will need proof of your reason, regardless of what it is.
If you never received notice of your hearing you will need to prove that you didn’t receive the mailed notices, which is hard to do. You may be able to prove this if you can show that the address they were sent to isn’t where you currently receive mail.
Extenuating circumstances are things like you or a family member were hospitalized at the time of the hearing or you were out of state and couldn’t get back because of transportation issues etc. You will need documents like hospital bills or travel receipts to prove that extenuating circumstances prevented you from being there.
There’s no guarantee the judge will reopen your case, even if you do provide sufficient evidence. But it’s worth filing the appeal anyway because your deportation will be delayed until a decision is made about reopening your case.
There’s New Evidence in Your Case
Sometimes you’ll be able to obtain evidence that wasn’t presented at your first hearing. You can request that your case be reopened so that the new evidence can be presented and considered.
If you’re being deported because you’ve been accused or convicted of a crime, then your case could be reopened if you present evidence that proves your innocence. If you were unable to locate documents that confirmed your status as a legal citizen or foreign national but you now have those documents, your case may be reopened so those documents can be considered.
Circumstances in Your Home Country Have Changed
Immigrants who are trying to stay in the country often seek asylum. Seeking asylum means that you request to stay in the U.S. because you have a legitimate reason to fear going back to your home country.
This fear could be because you’ll be violently persecuted because of your race, religion, sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Or it could be a fear of terrorism or other violent conflicts occurring in your country.
If circumstances in your country have changed since your hearing and you now have a legitimate fear of returning home, you can petition for asylum. Then you’ll have a hearing on your asylum request. If asylum is granted then your deportation order will be void.
Find Out If You Can Get a Green Card
If you don’t have grounds for an appeal, then you’ll need to attempt to stop your deportation in another way. The best way to do that is to see if you can meet the eligibility requirements for a green card.
Your best bets for getting a green card are by getting a petition from a family member or getting work authorization for a green card. Neither of these options is easy or quick, but if you can get the proper paperwork filed then your deportation may be delayed until your petition for a green card is resolved.
Getting Out of Detention
Once you receive your deportation order, you need to do everything necessary to comply. If you don’t comply you may be put into a detention center without the possibility of being released on bond.
In most cases, as long as you can post a bond, you’ll be allowed out of detention to work with a lawyer on your hearing or your appeals. If you need help posting a bond, please contact our agents as soon as possible. We can help you with the bond process and make sure you don’t stay in detention any longer than necessary.
Fighting a Deportation Order
It may seem like there’s nothing you can do once you get a deportation order, but thankfully that’s not true. You have options. Get in touch with an immigration lawyer as soon as you receive your order to review your case and discuss your options.
For more information about your rights in the immigration process, check out our blog.