Deportation and Removal Defense

Our Legal Team

Steven L. Tuchman
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Thomas R. Ruge
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Robert W. Rund
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Sarah Moshe

Sarah Burrow
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Dallin Lykins

Dallin Lykins
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Deportation and Removal from the United States

Deportation, a process now called Removal, generally begins with the issuance of a Notice to Appear (NTA). The U.S. government has devoted significant resources to immigration law enforcement since September 11, 2001, resulting in more arrests and issuance of NTAs. The NTA will state the reasons the U.S. government believes you should be removed. These may include overstaying your visa, working without authorization, entering the U.S. without inspection, criminal convictions, and other violations not consistent with the person's immigration status.

There are defenses to removal that are usually presented in immigration court by an attorney representing the foreign national. There is a right to be represented by an attorney in removal proceedings, but the government will not pay for the attorney.

Some strategies that our immigration attorneys have used are:

Adjustment of Status

  • If someone in removal proceedings is eligible to obtain a permanent visa but has not yet applied for it, he or she may qualify to apply for the permanent visa in removal proceedings and avoid being deported.

Acquisition of U.S. Citizenship

  • Someone who qualifies to become a U.S. citizen may be able to apply to become a U.S. Citizen (called "naturalization") and avoid being deported.


  • Orders by immigration judges to remove a foreign national out of the U.S. can be appealed.


  • If someone in removal proceeding has a "well founded fear" of being persecuted, jailed or harmed if returned to their home country, they may qualify to obtain permanent residence in the U.S. and avoid deportation. See our discussion of Asylum at Asylum and Refugees.

Cancellation of Removal

Some people in Removal proceedings qualify to become permanent residents (or maintain their permanent resident status) through "cancellation of removal." There are two forms of cancellation of removal.

For lawful permanent residents (LPR)

  • LPR for 5 years or more
  • Resided in the U.S. continuously for 7 years after a lawful admission
  • No aggravated felony convictions
  • Deserves favorable discretion from the judge

For non-lawful permanent residents

  • Continuous physical presence in U.S. for 10 years or more
  • Person of Good Moral Character
  • Has not been convicted of certain crimes
  • Must demonstrate that removal would result in exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to lawful permanent or U.S. citizen spouse, child, or parent

Post Conviction Relief

  • If the NTA is based on a criminal conviction, it may be possible to change or eliminate the conviction itself. L&K attorneys have successfully overturned convictions of aliens for the following reasons: inaccurate court interpreter in the criminal court; bad advice from the criminal defense attorney; lack of knowledge that the conviction would make the alien deportable; the court's or prosecutor's failure to follow required procedures and others. In some circumstances a pardon from the government can be obtained.


  • Some convictions or other reasons a person has been put in removal proceedings can be forgiven or "waived." There are various types of waivers, and the advice of an experienced immigration attorney is needed to evaluate each case to see if a waiver is available.
  • The process in removal proceedings is often lengthy and complicated. An attorney is needed to present a winning case. Our experienced immigration attorneys will guide you through every step of the way.