In Immigration Court? The Experienced Los Angeles Immigration Attorneys at the Goldstein Immigration Lawyers Can Help!
Every day many immigrants across Los Angeles and throughout the United States worry about deportation. Being deported would mean being separated from your family members and friends, leaving the country you’ve come to think of as your home, being sent back to a country that you no longer know how to navigate, and furthermore, it would create a longstanding ban on your ability to apply to come back to the United States legally.
Deportation Process may start with a Notice to Appear in Los Angeles Immigration Court
If you’ve received a letter entitled Notice to Appear in Immigration Court, then you have been placed into the removal or deportation process. This means that the Department of Homeland Security seeks your deportation from the United States. If you want to stay in the United States and avoid deportation, it is very important to understand your options in immigration court. You need to know what types of immigration relief you may be eligible for, what types of relief you simply don’t qualify for, and what your chances of success with certain applications really are.
The experienced Los Angeles immigration attorneys at the Goldstein Immigration Lawyers can help you evaluate your chances of winning a deportation case. Our team will realistically assess your options, choose the best strategy for your case, and then we’ll fight hard to keep you here. If you find yourself in immigration court, don’t wait to contact the Goldstein Immigration Lawyers today.
Here are some common deportation defense strategies that we often see in Los Angeles Immigration Court:
Cancellation of Removal Comes in Two Forms
You may have heard of “Cancellation of Removal.” Confusingly, “cancellation” refer to the following 2 completely different kinds of relief from deportation immigration court:
- Cancellation of Removal for Certain Permanent Residents or “7-Year Cancellation” is for people who already have their green cards. Generally, to be eligible for this type of relief, you have to have been a green card holder for 5 years, been a continuous resident of the United States for 7 years, and you cannot have been convicted of a crime that is classified as “aggravated felony.” This term has a particular meaning in immigration law, so it’s important to know what crimes fall into this category. If your cancellation of removal case is successful, you will not be deported and will be allowed to remain in the United States as a green card holder.
- Cancellation of Removal for Certain Nonpermanent Residents or “10-Year Cancellation” is for people who are not green card holders. Importantly, a person who is undocumented can apply for this type of relief. Generally, to be eligible for this type of relief, you must have lived in the United States for 10 years, be a person of “good moral character,” and you must have a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident parent, spouse, or child who will suffer “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” if you are not allowed to remain in the U.S. If your case is successful, you will be allowed to become a green card holder.
“Can you really get a green card after 10 years?”
Have you heard about the “10-year green card”? To get one, all you have to do is stay in the U.S. for 10 years, have no criminal record, and have a U.S. citizen child. Well, sadly, this sort of green card doesn’t exist!
The truth is that a green card through 10-year cancellation requires proof of “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” to a qualifying relative. This hardship standard is not easy to met. Often such cases turn on whether the spouse or child suffers a medical condition.
Another obstacle is that cancellation of removal is not an affirmative form of immigration relief, which means that you may only apply for this form of cancellation of removal before an Immigration Judge in Immigration Court as a defense to deportation. In other words, you don’t have a hearing in Immigration Court, then you can’t apply for cancellation of removal.
If you have a hearing in Los Angeles Immigration Court and would like to find out if cancellation of removal could be a winning immigration strategy for you, give us a call at 213-262-2000 and speak to one of our immigration lawyers.
Defensive Asylum: when returning home is too dangerous
If you came to the United States because you were fleeing persecution in your home country, then you might be eligible to apply for asylum in immigration court. When you apply for asylum in immigration court, this is called “defensive asylum.”
To qualify for asylum, you have to be able to demonstrate that you suffered persecution in your home country before you came to the United States, or, if you didn’t, that you have a well-founded fear of future persecution if you were forced to return to your home country.
Additionally, the persecution that you suffered has to have been for very specific reasons and must rise to a certain level of harm. The reason that you were persecuted must be because of your race; religion; national origin; membership in a particular social group; or political opinion. If the court does not find that you were harmed because of one of the reasons listed above, then you will not prevail in your asylum claim.
If you are filing a defensive asylum claim, you generally have to submit your asylum application to an immigration judge in court within one year of entering the United States. This time limit is referred to as the “one-year bar.” But, if there were extenuating circumstances during that first year, or if some circumstance changed after you entered the United States, then you may be able to overcome this one-year timeframe.
If you win your asylum case, you will avoid deportation and be granted asylee status for one year. After that year, you’ll have the opportunity to apply for a green card and become a permanent resident of the United States.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
If you came to the United States without the proper paperwork when you were a child, you may may be able to apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.
To be eligible you generally have to:
- Be at least 15 years old (with some exceptions);
- Have come to the United States before your 16th birthday;
- Have lived in the United States without leaving from June 15, 2007 to the present;
- Have been undocumented, under 31 years old and physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012;
- Be in school or have graduated from high school (or have gotten a GED); and
- Not have been convicted of certain crimes.
If you meet the eligibility requirements for this program, you may be able to request that the court administratively close your case so that you can apply for DACA before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. If granted, this would provide you with protection from removal from the United States, as well as work authorization.
Prosecutorial Discretion: when immigration agency chooses not to pursue your case
Lawyers who work for the immigration agencies are allowed to exercise something that is known as “prosecutorial discretion.” U.S. government officials make many decisions in the process of implementing the immigration laws of this country, and at lots of different stages in the deportation process, they have a certain degree of freedom to decide what cases to prioritize and how to best allocate their limited resources.
When you already have an open case in immigration court, the term “prosecutorial discretion” tends to mean that the prosecuting attorney, who is working on your immigration case, can decide to offer you the opportunity to have your case “administratively closed.” If your case is administratively closed, this means that it’s not an active case on the judge’s docket and you will not have to go to hearings on a regular basis. But it’s important to understand that prosecutorial discretion or administrative closure doesn’t mean that your case has been completely terminated in immigration court. It’s essentially as if the government has pressed a long-term pause button on your case.
If you are granted prosecutorial discretion (or “PD”), this allows you to remain in the United States without status, but also without having an order of deportation entered against you. Unfortunately, at the moment, being granted PD doesn’t provide you with work authorization.
Voluntary Departure: a way to avoid deportation
If you have no other immigration relief available to you, you may want to consider applying for voluntary departure. Voluntary departure allows you to leave the United States without having an order of deportation entered against you and gives you a much better chance of being able to return to the United States legally.
To be eligible for voluntary departure after you are placed in immigration court, here are the requirements:
- you generally cannot have an aggravated felony or terrorism charge in your record;
- you may have to pay a bond;
- you have to be willing to leave the country within at most 120 days of the hearing and able to prove that you intend to do so; and
- you have to establish five years of good moral character; and you have to establish one year of physical presence in the United States before your case began in immigration court.
A word of warning, though, it’s generally not advisable to apply for voluntary departure unless you really intend to leave the United States for specific strategic reasons. If you are granted voluntary departure and you do not leave, there are serious immigration penalties. In fact, in my ways, overstaying an order of voluntary departure is much worse than an order of deportation. Unlike many immigration lawyers, we rarely, if ever, recommend voluntary departure.
Our Los Angeles Immigration Attorneys Are Here to Defend You
At the Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, our lawyers have many years of experience representing people in immigration court. Our Los Angeles deportation defense attorneys will defend you with grit and determination. For more information about what your immigration options are, call our Los Angeles office at (213) 262-2000 or contact us today to schedule a consultation.