RELIEF FROM REMOVAL: What is it? And How can it help?

The United States government has set aside special categories of people that may be provided relief from deportation.  This relief may come in several forms, i.e. a green card, termination of proceedings, grants of asylum, withholding of removal, and voluntary departure.  All of these forms of relief vary on their eligibility and an experienced immigration lawyer can advise you on what relief you may be eligible for.

At the initial court date, after pleadings are taken the immigration judge will ask what forms of relief you are eligible for.  You must be prepared to tell the judge what forms of relief you are eligible for and why you meet the eligibility requirements.  Most judges will not let your case continue unless you can explain why you meet the requirements for the relief you are seeking.

After you explain to the judge what eligibility you may have for relief the judge will then either set your case for a call up date to submit any necessary applications or set it for an Individual Hearing which is essentially a trial in front of an immigration judge.   The judge will then make a decision as whether or not you will be granted the relief you have sought.

Here are some example forms of relief:

Adjustment of Status, most likely under Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.) Section 245 or 245(i). This is a way of changing from nonimmigrant to immigrant status in order to get legal status in the United States. The main requirement for this type of relief is that you have entered the united states legally but have over stayed your visa.  Sometimes, but usually you will need a qualifying United States Citizen or Permeant Resident family member to help you adjust.

Cancellation of Removal for Nonpermanent Residents. This is a way of obtaining a green card if you can prove that you have been present in the United States for ten years (with less than a 90 day absence at any point during the ten years), you are a person of good moral character  and can also show that your being removed would cause “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” to your “qualifying relative” (a spouse, parent, or child who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident).

Cancellation under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Similar to cancellation of removal for non-permanent residents, the applicant for VAWA cancellation must show that he or she has been “battered or subjected to extreme cruelty” by a “qualifying relative” and meets other requirements, including three years of physical presence in the U.S. and good moral character.

Voluntary Departure. Usually a last resort, this offers way to leave the U.S. actually getting a deportation on your record.  It also may grant you up to 120 days to get your affairs in order before you leave the United States.  This is a good form of relief who may not be eligible now, but will be able to come back to the United States at a later date.

Deferred Action. This is an agreement by the U.S. government to put your case on hold (neither give you legal status nor deport you).

Prosecutorial Discretion. This is a decision by the government agency that is trying to deport you to stop trying to do so.   This decision is made by The Department of Homeland Security and is granted to individuals who can demonstrate why they deserve to not be removed.  Usually that is shown through family relationships and good moral character.