Know Your Options for Defending Against Deportation

It is a known fact that the process of entering the United States legally is complex and time-consuming. For those individuals who have been designated for removal proceedings, however, the good news is that the process of deportation is also not terribly swift. What’s more, there are numerous ways to defend oneself against deportation and remain in the United States—and the burden of proof lies with the government, rather than with the individual.

Individuals who have been notified that they must appear in court on charges of being in the United States illegally—either through unlawful entry, overstaying a visa or even committing a crime while in the country legally—have a number of options when it comes to defending themselves against deportation. Perhaps the most unexpected is to simply argue that one cannot be deported, or at least that one cannot be deported for the reason given. While lying to a judge is certainly not advisable, simply refuting the charges offers an individual an opportunity to buy some time, because it places the onus on the government to provide documentation and evidence that a person can and should be deported.


U.S. immigration law provides individuals with a variety of ways to avoid deportation and enter or remain in the United States legally. Here’s a look at some of the most straightforward options:

  • Change in immigration status: While receiving immigrant status is typically the result of entering the United States legally, it is possible for illegal immigrants to have their immigration status adjusted in lieu of deportation.
  • Risk involved in returning to your home country: One of the most common reasons people want to come to the United States is that it offers safety and security when compared to their home country. Whether through seeking legal asylum or by identifying yourself as a target for torture or persecution, if you face actual danger in your country of origin, you may be able to persuade a judge to allow you to remain in the United States.
  • Withholding of removal: In some cases, it may be difficult to prove the likelihood of risk in returning to your home country, but the possibility may certainly be there. In such cases, it’s possible to apply for withholding of removal, which means that you won’t be deported, but also that your path to permanent U.S. residence, if desired, is far more difficult.
  • Voluntary departure: This may seem counterintuitive, but opting to remove yourself from the United States voluntarily, rather than go through the process of being deported, can actually be an effective solution if you hope to return to the country legally one day. Whereas being deported can make it difficult to return to the United States, voluntary departure won’t have the same negative effects.

Regardless of the circumstances, if you’re faced with deportation and hope to stay in the United States, it’s in your best interest to consult an experienced and knowledgeable immigration and deportation attorney.

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