Deportation from the United States


Removal is the word U.S. immigration law uses for what is commonly called "deportation."

A person who has received a "Notice to Appear" (NTA) is in removal proceedings, which means the government seeks to remove (deport) the person from the United States. The NTA states the reason(s) the government is trying to remove the person.

A person may face removal from the United States for:

  • Entering the country without proper authority
    • U.S. immigration law requires that persons be inspected and admitted into the country by an immigration officer.
  • Violating the terms of immigration status in the United States
    • An example of violating immigration status is working in the U.S. without employment authorization (commonly called a work permit).
  • Committing a broad range of criminal convictions
    • Certain state law misdemeanors may make persons deportable, even if they have lived in the United States for many years.
  • Becoming a public charge within the first five years of being in the United States
    • A public charge is a person who becomes dependent on the U.S. government for financial assistance.  The rules governing the definition of who is a public charge are complex and depend on what kind of financial assistance a person received from which U.S. government agency.

Removal proceedings are administrative cases.  They are not criminal cases, and persons will not be appointed a lawyer by the U.S. government.  However, all persons in removal proceedings have the right to be represented by a lawyer.

Removal cases are decided by Immigration Judges, who are part of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, which is part of the U.S. Department of Justice.  The government is represented by an attorney who works for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The rules governing removal from the United States are complex.  For example, there are special rules for how the NTA should be issued to a person.  Sometimes even if the reason(s) listed on the NTA are true, there are waivers a person can apply for that will allow the person to stay in the United States.  It is not the job of the government attorney or the Immigration Judge to find a reason why a person should not be removed from the United States, which is why it is best to have an attorney representing the person facing removal.