When a person has entered the United States illegally, they may be at risk of extradition. Removal proceedings, commonly known as the deportation process, are used to determine whether or not a foreign national will be expelled from the U.S.
Removal proceedings occur when an individual has been discovered illegally residing in the United States.
A foreign national’s immigrant status may be discovered:
- During an arrest
- Through a workplace raid
- From an anonymous tip
Upon discovery, an individual may be formally removed from the United States for violating immigration laws. The process begins with a notice.
Notice to Appear
A Notice to Appear (NTA) will be issued to the foreign national advising them that the removal proceeding will begin. The NTA outlines the removal process and explains why the person is in violation of U.S. immigration law. It will also provide the individual with a court date for which they must appear.
The NTA advises the foreign national of their right to legal representation. Attorneys specializing in immigration law may be especially helpful in defending the individual.
There may be several hearings where the individual can dispute their immigration status.
During the first hearing, known as a master hearing, the foreign national may be asked their name, address, if they want legal representation and if they understand the language of their proceeding. In this hearing, the individual will be able to accept voluntary removal or dispute grounds for removal.
If there is a strong defense, the individual will be granted a merits hearing. During this proceeding, the foreign national may convince the judge—with evidence—that they should be allowed to stay in the U.S. After the final merits hearing, the judge will grant relief from removal or order the removal to proceed.
It is crucial that the foreign national attend all court proceedings. If they do not, an order of removal will be issued immediately. In most cases, a non-citizen with an order of removal will not be eligible to return to the U.S. for at least 10 years.
Both the foreign national and the U.S. government have the option to appeal the court’s ruling.