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What Is Motion to Vacate and Why Is it So Powerful to Your Immigration Status?

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What Is Motion to Vacate and Why Is it So Powerful to Your Immigration Status?

In California, immigrants who are both documented and undocumented feel the pressure of the criminal justice system more than U.S. citizens do. A critical tool that can be used to protect immigrants against incrimination is a motion to vacate. However, many individuals are unclear about this legal tool and ask themselves, what is motion to vacate, and why is it so powerful to your immigration status?

If documented immigrants are charged and convicted for even a minor crime, they could lose certain benefits and privileges, and if undocumented immigrants come into contact with the criminal justice system, they can face deportation. The legal team at U.S. Law Center explains how a motion to vacate can be a game changer in a criminal case, especially if you are a non-U.S. citizen living in the United States.

What Is a California Motion to Vacate?

A CA motion to vacate is made by an individual after they have been tried and convicted of a crime in criminal court. This formal request is submitted, containing the legal reasoning for why the conviction should be looked at another time by the court. Filing a motion to vacate in California will also provide a more equitable solution to the current crime sentencing. This powerful tool can completely wipe a crime off of someone’s criminal record, appearing as if it never happened.

How Does a Motion to Vacate Impact My Immigration Case?

A motion to vacate can be a game-changer in an immigration case, dismissing previous convictions and giving individuals a chance to start anew. While the impact depends on the specifics of a case and the details surrounding it, a motion to vacate can have the following implications for an immigration case:

  • Opening Removal Proceedings Back Up. There are some immigration proceedings that occur without the presence of the defendant there, which result in their being sentenced to be removed from the country. In these cases, a motion to vacate can allow the case proceedings to be completed again, but with the defendant present so that they can defend their case in front of the immigration court.
  • Changing Circumstances. Sometimes, if the information that was taken into account to decide on an immigration case outcome has changed substantially, then the case can be reopened. Circumstances that could change include altered conditions in the home country of an individual asking for asylum or other types of humanitarian relief, as well as law changes, such as decriminalization, and personal circumstances, such as the presence of a violent situation at home.
  • Violations of Due Process. If due process rights were breached during proceedings in immigration court, including suppression of key defendant evidence or violation of the right to a fair trial, then the case can be opened back up for consideration.
  • Reopening Orders That Are Unlawful. Some immigration court orders can be unlawful if they breach state or federal law, such as not having adequate legal representation for the defendant, suppressing or ignoring key evidence, or committing errors during the case proceedings. A motion to vacate can help make these wrongs right.

It’s important to note that even lawful permanent residents who are deeply rooted in the U.S. and have a career and family can face deportation if they are convicted of certain crimes or even make a mistake in their paperwork or miss a deadline. Therefore, it is key to have legal tools that can allow noncitizens to challenge the outcome of a case.

A motion to vacate is one of the many legal tools that can be leveraged by immigration lawyers to help defend a noncitizen’s rights and make sure that they get the fair proceedings and representation that they deserve.


Q: What Does “Vacated” Mean for Immigration Purposes?

A: “Vacated” in immigration court means that a previous decision and subsequent penalties that an immigration court makes are annulled or overturned. This can be particularly powerful for noncitizens in the United States who are convicted of a crime, and their sentencing results in negative consequences that severely impact their immigration status or even result in deportation or removal orders.

Q: Can a Dismissed Case Affect My Immigration Case?

A: If you were facing criminal charges or a conviction and the case gets dismissed, this has clear implications for your immigration status. Any subsequent penalties that a noncitizen may have been facing or potentially facing as a result of their charges or conviction, including loss of immigration status or deportation or removal orders, can be dropped if a case is dismissed. If you believe that your case has grounds to be dismissed, a motion to vacate lawyer can assist you.

Q: How Can an Immigration Lawyer Help Me in Criminal Court?

A: If you are facing charges for crimes in criminal court and are a noncitizen of the United States, then a conviction can result in severe impacts on your immigration status or presence in the country. An experienced immigration lawyer can help you work towards protecting your interests, informing you of your rights, filing motions to get your charges dropped or reduced, and minimizing your time in detainment.

Q: What Is the Difference Between Termination of An Immigration Case and Dismissal?

A: In the context of an immigration court in the United States, termination is when criminal proceedings against an individual are ended by an immigration judge and can have final outcomes. On the other hand, a dismissal can get a case temporarily or permanently closed and can be without or with prejudice. A knowledgeable immigration lawyer can help you contextualize this terminology for your case and, if relevant, work to leverage it on your behalf.

Protect Your Rights and Your Status: Leverage Key Legal Tools in Immigration Court

If you are a noncitizen in the U.S. facing criminal charges or proceedings in criminal court or immigration court, then you may be feeling anxious and worried about how this will impact your immigration status and your presence in the country.

Fortunately, an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney from U.S. Law Center can assist you with getting the legal support that you are entitled to, leveraging key tools to work towards getting your charges or sentence reduced or even dismissed. Contact us today to start fighting back against your case ruling.

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