Can I get deported if I have a green card? And other deportation questions

Deportation, also referred to as “removal,” is the formal removal of a foreign national from the U.S. for violating immigration law. The threat of deportation affects families, their livelihoods, and the chances of living full lives while in the United States. The best way to avoid deportation is through a solid understanding of visa recipient responsibilities and abiding by the United States laws. 

In this article, we’ve answered the most common questions about removal proceedings, including common reasons for deportation and examples for next steps if faced with an Order for Removal. 

Can I get deported if I have a green card?

If you violate U.S. immigration laws, you can get deported, even if you are a legal permanent resident. Some reasons that green card holders are deported may include:

  • Living outside of the U.S. for more than 180 days without receiving special permission
  • Termination of conditional permanent resident status
  • Knowingly helping someone enter into the United States illegally
  • Committing marriage fraud
  • Committing crimes of moral turpitude, including murder, rape, incest, kidnapping, theft, and fraud
  • Committing an aggravated felony
  • Committing a high-speed flight from an immigration checkpoint
  • Failure to register as a sex offender
  • Conviction of drug or firearm crimes
  • Failure to notify USCIS of a change in address within ten days of your move
  • Failure to establish a permanent residence or abandonment of permanent residence
  • Involvement in espionage, sabotage, or violations or evasions of any law prohibiting the export of goods, technology, or sensitive information, or in any other criminal activity that is a danger to public safety or national security

This list is not extensive, and in some cases, you may be eligible to apply for a waiver to avoid deportation. A reputable immigration attorney can help to determine your best course of action. 

What are the most common reasons to be deported?

The most common reasons for deportation are illegal entry into the United States and overstaying your visa’s departure date. Similar to how a green card holder can be deported, legal or illegal residents can also be placed in removal proceedings for violations of U.S. laws such as:

  • Violating the conditions of your visa, for example, working despite not being authorized to work
  • Failure to notify USCIS of a change in address
  • Committing certain crimes such as aggravated felonies or crimes of moral turpitude
  • Receiving public assistance

Can my deportation orders get canceled?

If you have been placed in removal proceedings, you may have a chance to reverse the ruling if you can prove legal grounds to remain in the United States. In these cases, a reputable immigration lawyer can increase your chances of a successful outcome by supplying proof of your qualifications and submitting all necessary documents in a timely manner. Some defenses your lawyer may use include:

Improper serving of a notice to appear

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must follow specific steps when issuing a Notice to Appear. A Notice to Appear (NTA) or Form I-862 is a document that begins the removal proceedings and provides an explanation as to why you may be deportable. If this document was sent to the wrong address, directly to your immigration lawyer, or not filed correctly with the immigration courts, it could be grounds to dismiss your removal proceedings. 

You are not removable as charged

If the immigration judge feels that DHS has not provided substantial proof that you are removable as charged, you may receive mandatory or discretionary relief from removal. 

Voluntary departure

If you have no criminal convictions, you may petition for a voluntary departure to avoid a formal removal action on your record. While this request still requires you to leave the United States for a period of time, it makes the process easier to return lawfully in the future. To be eligible to request a voluntary departure, you must have lived in the United States for at least one year, prove that you had no criminal history for at least five years, and can pay for transportation back to your home country. 

Adjustment of status

If you have legally entered the country but have been placed in removal proceedings because you’ve neglected to extend your visa, in some cases, you may be able to avoid deportation by adjusting your visa status.

Cancellation of removal for legal permanent residents

If you are a lawful permanent resident, you may be able to avoid deportation if you can prove that you’ve lived in the United States for at least seven years and a legal permanent resident for five of those years. You must not have been convicted of a felony and not received a cancellation of removal in the past. 

Cancellation of removal for legal non-permanent residents

As a non-permanent resident, you can request a cancellation for deportation if you can prove that you’ve lived in the United States legally for a minimum of 10 years, have no deportable criminal offenses, and your deportation would cause an “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” to a spouse, parent or child (a “qualifying relative”) who is a U.S. citizen or green card holder. 

How much time do I have before being deported?

The deportation process could call for expedited removal or allow for a longer process to put your affairs in order before leaving the country. Expedited removal typically occurs if you have entered the United States illegally without proper documentation or forged documents. The expedited process does not allow for a hearing before an immigration judge. 

In the case of expedited removal, an officer at the border checkpoint or airport could order immediate removal and bar your entry for at least five years. However, you may avoid expedited removal if you can prove:

  1. A return to your home country is a threat to your safety, and you are requesting asylum
  2. You claim lawful status and require an immigration judge to review your claim. 

If your deportation results from a hearing with an immigration judge, you are permitted 30 days to appeal the Order of Removal. Once the Order of Removal is final, you typically are granted 90 days before you are required to report to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency for travel arrangements back to your home country. 

Can I come back to the United States after being deported?

If you have been removed from the United States, you may be ineligible from returning legally for five, ten, or 20 years, and in some cases, permanently. During this time, you will not be able to enter the country for any reason, even for a short trip to visit family. Once you are permitted to return, you must file Form I-212 Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States for reentry. 

How long you are barred from reentry depends on your reason for deportation:

Five-year bar

  • You were ruled inadmissible at a U.S border at the time of your attempted entry
  • You were deported after being placed in removal proceedings during your first entry into the United States
  • You failed to attend your immigration court proceedings

Ten-year bar

  • An immigration judge ordered your removal after a hearing, even if you did not attend the hearing

Twenty-year bar

  • You were deported before and attempted to reenter the United States before the expiration of your ten-year period of inadmissibility

Permanent bar

  • You were convicted of an aggravated felony, such as murder, rape, drug trafficking
  • You entered the United States illegally after being deported
  • You illegally entered the United States after previously being in the U.S. unlawfully for more than one year

If you reenter the United States illegally before your permitted length of time, you may be immediately sent back to your country of origin without the opportunity to present your case to an immigration judge. You may also be charged with a federal crime which could lead to a fine, jail time, or a permanent ban from returning to the United States. 

What happens to my bank accounts if I get deported?

Your immigration status should not affect access to your bank accounts, and the U.S. government will not seize your funds if you are deported. However, being out of the country may make it difficult to access your money. Most banks will require proof of identification when making any significant changes to your bank account. That being said, here are two options to ensure you and your family can continue to have access to your funds if you are deported. 

  1. Create a joint account – With a joint account, you are providing access to your bank account to someone you trust. This person will have access to deposit and withdraw money when needed. 
  2. Close your bank account – By closing your bank account, you will be issued a check with the remaining funds, or you can request a transfer to a new bank account in your home country. Keep in mind that it may be difficult to cash an American check in your home country, or you may have to wait 45 to 90 days for the check to clear, providing access to your money. 

What happens when I receive an Order for Removal?

If you are already living in the United States, most Orders for Removal allow you to defend your case before an immigration judge. An immigration lawyer can help analyze your case, explore your options, and provide insights into any eligible waivers. If you are faced with removal proceedings, contacting an expert in U.S. immigration law can go a long way in determining the success of your case and your future in the United States. 

Looking for Immigration Help?

Stump & Associates is Oklahoma City’s most respected immigration law firm. With more than 30 years of experience, we know how to handle cases just like yours.

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