U.S. Law Center

3 ways to seek relief from the removal process

If a judge has recently determined that you have broken immigration laws, he or she may have ordered deportation. Now, you are facing separation from family members, employment or education. 

Is there anything you can do? Maybe. Here are three tactics that may result in relief from removal.

1. Apply for asylum

Asylum may be available to you if you can prove that you have suffered persecution or fear persecution in your home country due to factors such as:

  • Your race
  • Your religious beliefs
  • Your nationality
  • Your political opinion
  • Your membership in a persecuted social group

To qualify for asylum, though, you must file the application no later than one year from the date you arrived in the U.S.

2. Appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals

Maybe you believe the judge made a mistake; you have broken no laws and you should not face removal proceedings. In this case, you may appeal the decision to the BIA. This federal agency will then review the judge's interpretation of the law to determine whether there was, indeed, an error. You have 30 days to file this appeal. This process is not likely to be straightforward, and there may be many factors that affect the outcome, so it is a good idea to speak with an attorney before filing the appeal.

3. Seek discretionary relief

As a temporary resident who has been present in the country for 10 years or more, you may be able to request discretionary relief from the judge. You must prove that during your time in the U.S., you have upheld good moral character. This includes demonstrating that you have never:

  • Received a conviction for murder or for an aggravated felony
  • Been involved in prostitution
  • Been a habitual drunkard
  • Engaged in smuggling humans
  • Testified falsely so that you could receive benefits under immigration laws

You must also show that your immediate family members who are lawfully in the U.S. or who are citizens would suffer extreme hardship because of your removal. Both your moral character and your family's hardship are subjective matters that a judge has complete discretion to determine and will typically hold to a high standard.

An immigration attorney may be able to help you identify whether these or another method of relief is an option for you, and if so, what evidence you need to gather to prove your case.

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