How Do I Avoid Deportation if I am In the United States Illegally?

If an Immigration Judge finds you to be illegally present in the United States, it does not necessarily follow that you will be deported. Criminal and immigration laws provides you with many types of relief from deportation:

Waiver – The immigration law enumerates various grounds by which an alien in the United States may be subject to deportation. A common ground of deportability provides that an alien may be subject to deportation if he was excludable when he entered the United States. There are many grounds of excludability found in the law.

Eligibility for waivers of deportability and excludability depend upon your ability to show “extreme hardship” to certain close family members who are US citizens or permanent residents if you are forced to leave the US. For example, if you have resided in the US for seven years, at least five of which were as a permanent resident, you may be able to qualify for a waiver of many grounds of deportability and excludability. However, recent laws severely limit your ability to obtain such a waiver if you were convicted of any wide range of crimes.

Cancellation of Removal – A deportable alien may apply for permanent residence from an Immigration Judge through Cancellation of Removal if he meets the following requirements:

Continuously physical presence in the U.S. for at least ten years before being placed in removal proceedings (absence of less than 90 days, or 180 days in total do not affect the continuity of one’s physical presence).

Good moral character.

No convictions of certain designated (criminal) offenses, such as possession of a weapon.

Showing that removal would result in exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to his US citizen or permanent resident spouse, parent or child.

Adjustment of Status to Permanent Residence – A deportable alien who is an “immediate relative” because he is the parent, spouse, widow or child of a US citizen may be eligible to apply to the Judge to adjust his status to that of a lawful permanent resident. Also qualified to apply for adjustment of status is any alien whose priority date for permanent residence is “current”.

Aliens who obtained conditional permanent residence based upon their marriage, or the marriage of their alien parent, to a US citizen or permanent resident may have their legal status terminated by the INS if they fail to meet certain requirements. However, once INS places them under deportation proceedings, they may renew their applications for permanent residence before an Immigration Judge. The same holds true for an alien who becomes a conditional permanent resident based on investment.