Deportation or removal from the USA

Everything you need to know about deportation and removal from the United States.

It has always been common to hear the terms deportation or removal in the United States, especially if you are an immigrant. What do these terms actually mean? What is the difference between them? Is it the same as an “express deportation”?

We understand that it can be very hard as an immigrant to know and understand the law in a foreign country, that is why you will find a lot of interesting information, and answers to the questions above, and more.

What does deportation from the United States mean?

Deportation applies to an immigrant in the United States who acts against immigration law and, therefore, it can force an immigrant by the American government to leave the country. Such a person is called “inadmissible” or “deportable”.

The authorities will not allow the entrance into the United States to inadmissible immigrants, and in the case of those who have arrived into United States territory and break the law will be deported.

Why is an immigrant deported?

When you request a visa or a green card, the authorities will take your fingerprints and run your police record. If you have broken Immigration law or if you have committed any other crime, you will be deemed “deportable”.

Also, an immigrant can be deported if there is a raid organized by USCIS, if he or she is investigated and does not have the necessary documents to stay in the United States legally. 

The most common reasons why an immigrant is deported to his country of origin: 

  • Getting into the country without passing through customs and immigration, or using fake documents to do so. This is the case of people who cross the United States border illegally. 
  • Overstaying the United States visa that was issued for you.
  • Falsifying social security documents in order to work, or working  without a permit.
  • When there is a previous deportation order.

Aside from these reasons, an immigrant will also be deported if he or she is found guilty of committing a felony. 

What are some crimes that can prompt a deportation?

  • Money laundering.
  • Drug dealing.
  • Misappropriation or embezzlement.
  • Traffic of organs or people.
  • Prostitution
  • If by adding 2 or more crimes, the total is more than 5 years.
  • In general, felonies against United States federal or state law.

How is the procedure that you need to follow to be “deportable”?

When immigration authorities consider that a foreign citizen should be deported, an immigration court hearing must be scheduled where he or she will have the opportunity to fight the deportation order. 

How can you avoid being deported?

If you want to live in the United States without the risk of being deported, you must:

  • Apply for a visa that would allow you to stay. 
  • Respect the maximum staying time of such a visa.
  • Request an short-term extension and respect it.
  • Work in the United States legally (not all visas would allow you to work).
  • Do not commit any crime against the law.
  • Consult an immigration attorney in order to avoid any mistakes with your application. 

Can a naturalized American citizen be deported?

Yes, a foreign citizen who became an American by naturalization can be deported back to his country of origin when it has been found that he or she committed fraud in his or her permanent residence permit application. 

Can you return to the United States after having been deported?

Getting into the United States illegally, staying with an unregulated status, or breaking the law in a serious way can have far-reaching consequences. The authorities not only try to punish a foreign citizen momentarily, but they would forbid permanently his or her entrance into the United States.

Once a person has been deported back to his or her country or origin, he or she will not be allowed to enter the United States by the time set by the court. In some cases they can apply for a waiver, called I-22, and be exonerated of an imminent deportation.

How long should a deported person wait in order to return to the United States?

If a person is deported, he or she will be barred from coming to the United States for 5, 10, or 20 years. The time varies depending on the reason for the deportation.

The crime committed will appear on the deportee’s immigration record. The specific times can be found on Section 2 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Here is a comprehensive list:

Time barred from returning when deported:

  • 5 years: This time applies to people who were expelled from the United States at the time of arrival, whether because they were considered inadmissible, or because a process was opened immediately after their arrival. This penalty also applies to immigrants who have been ordered to appear in a court hearing before an immigration judge but fail to do so.
  • 10 years: A 10-year bar is much more common when an immigration judge ordered the removal of a foreign citizen after a hearing in an immigration court.
  • 20 years: A 20-year bar is given to immigrants who have received a deportation order, and have been found guilty of a felony previously committed. A felony is a serious crime, but a person can fall into this category when they have committed an immigration offence several times. This is usually the case of immigrants who have been expelled from the United States, and later on the authorities find out that he or she has returned to the country illegally.

These are the most common penalties, however, it could happen that a person is permanently barred from coming into the country when he or she has committed very serious crimes.

How can a person return to the United States after the penalty has been paid?

Once an immigrant has been deported by an immigration court in the US, it is actually possible to return legally, but the options are somewhat limited. The following can be taken into account:

  • Apply for an immigrant visa or green card. In order to do that, you must have the support of relatives or companies that are willing to legally sponsor you come to the United States. 
  • Apply for a non-immigrant visa, such as a B1/B2 visa. 

Before you start any of the processes mentioned above, it is necessary that you first ask for a waiver to enter the United States legally. In the particular case of the 20-year bar, it is essential that you apply for the waiver at least 10 years after the deportation.

“If a person is deported, he or she will be barred from coming to the United States for 5, 10, or 20 years. The time varies depending on the reason for the deportation.”

What is the Immigration I-212 waiver

The I-212 Waiver is a process that people who have been deported from the United States can apply for. It is not available to all people, and it is quite a long process. 

Processing the I-212 Waiver is not necessary for all people who have been deported, it will depend on the kind of visa you are planning to apply for to enter the United States.

The following people DO NOT need to apply for an I-212 Waiver:

  • Foreign citizens wishing to transit the United States.
  • People who were detained trying to illegally cross the border but did not receive a deportation order immediately. 
  • People who left the United States before their visa was expired, and therefore, were not deported.
  • People who apply for a U Visa (victims of violence who either quest asylum or adjustment of status).

What is the so-called “fast-tracked” deportation, and how is it different from a regular deportation? 

Unlike everything we have considered throughout this article, on Tuesday, July 23, 2019 came into force the “fast-tracked” deportation or “expedited removal” promoted by president Donald Trump and, in this case a deportation is immediate, and they do not have access to an immigration court. A federal judge blocked this measure in 

This measure seeks to reduce the number of people who enter the United States illegally.

This kind of deportation targets undocumented immigrants that cannot prove that they have lived in the country for 2 uninterrupted years. In the case of those who can actually prove they have lived here for 2 or more years in the United States, they can go to court and defend their case.

Undocumented migrants also have the right to consult with a lawyer who can defend their cases.

How can you avoid the “fast-tracked” deportation?

It is strongly recommended that you keep the following documents at hand if you want to avoid being deported from the US: 

  • Government ID
  • Documents that prove that you have paid your taxes during the last 2 years.
  • Documents that can help your defense before an immigration court. 

Who is exempt from the “fast-tracked” deportation? 

People who have requested political asylum, and those who entered the United States legally, but stayed after their visa expired.


A deportation process is avoidable as long as you respect immigration law. That is why it is very important that you make sure you apply for the right type of visa, how to apply, and what is the procedure to legally extend your visa or change your status, if you wish to stay in the United States permanently.

It is important that you get in touch with the contact service center of the immigration court that looks after your case if you have a deportation order, and follow the instructions given. These instructions will be given to you so you can defend your case, especially if you think you can make any mistakes, you should definitely make an appointment with an immigration attorney. 

If you are in the middle of a deportation procedure, you can find the necessary information in the order given by the judge, or in the Notice to Appear in Removal Proceedings. On the other hand, those who have been removed immediately, they can find the required information in the Notice of Expedited Removal, where they will be able to find whether they have paid their penalties.

If you have any doubts, it is very important to have an immigration lawyer that can advise you so you can avoid uncomfortable situations. If you hope to get a green card or any type of visa, you should seek legal advice from someone who understands the law, in this way you will save time and money.

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