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What is the Difference Between Removal and Deportation Proceedings?

Deportation proceedings and removal proceedings are often used interchangeably to refer to the legal process by which the U.S. government seeks to remove non-citizens from the country. However, in 1996, the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) replaced the term “deportation” with “removal” to make the process sound less punitive and more administrative in nature. Keep reading to understand more about what are removal proceedings, deportation orders, and how long the deportation process takes. 

What are Removal Proceedings? 

Removal proceedings are initiated by the U.S. government when it believes that a non-citizen has violated immigration laws and should be removed from the country. The proceedings are typically held in front of an immigration judge in the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). 

If removal proceedings are terminated, the non-citizen may be allowed to stay in the United States if they meet specific criteria. For example, if they are eligible for adjustment of status or asylum, they may be able to apply for those forms of relief. The adjustment of status in removal proceedings is a process that allows certain non-citizens to apply for lawful permanent resident status (green card) while they are in the United States. In some cases, non-citizens in removal proceedings may be eligible for adjustment of status if they meet certain criteria. 

A deportation order is a legal document issued by an immigration judge that orders the removal of a non-citizen from the United States. Once a deportation order is issued, the non-citizen may be subject to removal at any time. 

How Long Does the Deportation Process Take? 

The length of the deportation process can vary depending on a number of factors, including the complexity of the case and the court’s caseload. In general, the process can take several months to several years. In some cases, a deportation order may be appealed or reopened. However, the process for doing so can be complex and may require the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney. 

The steps to a deportation order typically include the following: 

  • Notice to Appear: The non-citizen is served with a Notice to Appear, which initiates removal proceedings. 
  • Master Calendar Hearing: The non-citizen appears before an immigration judge for a preliminary hearing to determine the basic facts of the case. 
  • Individual Hearing: The non-citizen appears before an immigration judge for a hearing on the merits of the case. 
  • Appeals: If a deportation order is issued, the non-citizen may have the right to appeal the decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). 
  • Removal: If the deportation order is not reversed or appealed, the non-citizen may be subject to removal from the United States. 

While deportation proceedings and removal proceedings are often used interchangeably, they essentially mean the same thing and usually result in a non-citizen being removed from the country. If you or someone you know is currently in removal proceedings, it’s best to speak to an experienced immigration attorney as soon as possible. At Dominguez Law Firm, PLLC we work together with our clients to get them through the process and work hard to achieve the best result possible. Get in touch today to discuss your specific immigration needs!