So You Received a Notice to Appear in Immigration Court, Now What?
Receiving a notice to appear before an immigration court can raise many questions. You may have received this notice by mail or through an immigration official. This notice will contain the charges against you and the date, time, and location of your court hearing. The charges will explain why the government believes you are deportable. Some of the main reasons for deportation are criminal allegations or immigration violations including an illegal entry or a visa overstay. When you do receive a notice to appear, you want to make sure you do a few things to protect your stay in the United States.
First, make sure to attend your scheduled hearing. Ignoring the notice and not attending your hearing will only make your situation worse. If you fail to appear for your hearing, the government can have you ordered removed without your presence. By appearing, you have a chance to defend yourself. Once a removal order has been entered against you, it will only serve to limit many forms of relief for which you might otherwise have been eligible.
Second, consult with an experienced immigration attorney. Depending on your situation you may be eligible for relief from deportation. There are many types of relief available and an experienced attorney may analyze your case to see if any apply to your situation. Some forms of relief are:
Cancellation of Removal (Green Card Holders). If you have had a green card for at least 5 years and been in the U.S. for at least 7 years, you may be eligible for cancellation of removal. Once you can show you are eligible it is up to the judge’s discretion whether to grant this form of relief. A good attorney can help you present the strongest possible case to have the judge find in your favor.
Cancellation of Removal (Non-Green Card Holders). If you are not a green card holder but have lived in the U.S. for 10 years with good moral character, you may qualify for cancellation of removal. In order to be granted this relief you must prove that your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or parent would suffer extreme hardship if you were to be deported.
Adjustment of Status. If you have a way to apply for a green card during your removal proceedings, your lawyer may apply for your green card in court, preventing your deportation.
Asylum. If you have a fear of returning to your home country and you fall under one of the protected groups, you may qualify for asylum. An attorney would be able to present an asylum case for you and possibly keep you in the U.S.
Criminal Waiver. If you have criminal convictions which make you deportable or inadmissible, you may be eligible for a waiver. In order to qualify you would need to have a U.S. citizen spouse, child, or parent who would suffer extreme hardship if you were to be removed. An experienced immigration attorney could assist you in determining if your crime and situation would make you eligible for this type of waiver.
Fraud Waiver. If you have been accused of fraud you may be eligible for a waiver by showing extreme hardship to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or parent.
Voluntary Departure. If the government’s evidence is compelling and there is no other form of relief which could keep you in the country, voluntary departure may be your best option. By agreeing to be responsible for your travel and then leaving within the specified time you can avoid receiving a removal order. The main benefit of voluntary departure is that you can avoid an automatic bar to returning to the U.S. at a later date.
If you have received a Notice to Appear in Immigration Court, the immigration team at Livesay & Myers, P.C. can help evaluate your case. From our offices in Manassas and Fairfax, Virginia, we represent clients in Virginia, D.C. and across the United States. Contact us to schedule your initial consultation with an experienced immigration attorney today.