Can I Get a Green Card During Removal Proceedings?
Facing removal proceedings as a noncitizen can be an incredibly challenging and stressful experience for immigrants and their loved ones. While it can be overwhelming to consider the outcome, immigrants in Florida can take hope in knowing that there are potential avenues for relief when facing deportation.
With the help of a seasoned immigration lawyer, there are various paths that noncitizens and their loved ones can take to avoid the life-altering ramifications of deportation. Keep reading to learn more about the possibility of obtaining a green card by becoming a lawful permanent resident (LPR) in the U.S. during removal proceedings in Florida.
What Are Removal Proceedings?
Removal proceedings, formerly known as deportation proceedings, are legal procedures initiated by the U.S. government to determine whether a non-citizen should be deported from the United States.
The process begins when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) serves a “Notice to Appear” (NTA) to the immigrant. This document contains allegations against the individual, stating why the government believes they should be removed from the U.S. The NTA is then filed with the immigration court, marking the start of the removal proceedings.
There are various reasons why noncitizens can face deportation, including:
- Unlawful presence: Immigrants who stay in the U.S. beyond their permitted duration (as per their visa) can be subject to removal.
- Criminal convictions: Immigrants who commit certain crimes may face deportation. These crimes include (but are not limited to) drug-related offenses, crimes of moral turpitude, aggravated felonies, and specific firearm offenses.
- Violation of U.S. immigration laws: This includes entering the U.S. without proper inspection, falsely claiming U.S. citizenship, or participating in a fraudulent marriage for the purpose of obtaining an immigration benefit.
- Public charge: If individuals become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or institutionalization for long-term care at the government's expense, they may face removal proceedings.
- Violation of nonimmigrant status or condition or entry: This includes violating the terms of one's visa (for example, a tourist visa holder working in the U.S.) or working without authorization.
- National security: These include engaging in activities that violate any law relating to espionage, sabotage, or export of goods, technology, or sensitive information from the U.S.
A removal order can have significant consequences for immigrants and their families, putting their health, safety, and economic security at risk. Without experienced representation, removal orders can not only result in noncitizens being forcibly removed from their loved ones, but result in them being banned from re-entering the U.S. for several years, further isolating deported individuals from their loved ones.
If a removal order is issued, the individual must leave the U.S., separating them from the life they've built in America.
Applying for Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) Status
A green card or lawful permanent resident card permits noncitizens to legally work and live in the United States on a permanent basis.
Benefits of Obtaining a Green Card
As you can imagine, this can entail substantial benefits for immigrants and their loved ones, including:
- Permanent residence – Green card holders can live anywhere within the United States.
- Employment – They can work in any company or sector of their choice, without needing an additional work permit.
- Protection under U.S. laws – Green card holders are protected by all laws of the United States, their state of residence, and local jurisdictions.
- Eligibility for U.S. citizenship – After five years of being a green card holder (or three years if married to a U.S. citizen), they can apply for U.S. citizenship.
- Family benefits – Green card holders can petition to have their close family members (spouse and unmarried children under 21) live in the U.S. as green card holders.
- Access to social security benefits – They can also receive social security benefits upon retirement, provided they worked for at least ten years before retiring.
- Access to federal aid for higher education – They are eligible for government-sponsored financial aid for education.
Types of Green Cards
There are several types of green cards, each corresponding to different immigrant categories:
- Family-based green cards – These are available for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Categories include spouses, unmarried children under 21, and parents of U.S. citizens who are at least 21 years old.
- Employment-based green cards – These are for individuals who have a job offer from a U.S. employer. The categories range from EB-1 for priority workers to EB-5 for investors.
- Refugee or asylee status green cards – Individuals granted asylum or refugee status within the U.S. can apply for a green card one year after their status is granted.
- Humanitarian programs – Certain humanitarian programs allow individuals in special situations to stay in the U.S. temporarily, which may lead to becoming a lawful permanent resident.
Each type of green card has its own eligibility requirements and application process. If you're considering applying for a green card, it's advisable to consult with an immigration attorney to determine which type is ideal for your unique circumstances.
5 Steps to Apply for a Green Card with a Removal Order
When facing removal orders, it’s crucial for noncitizens in Florida to take swift legal action as soon as possible by following these steps:
- Seek counsel from a trusted immigration lawyer – Given the uncertainties of today’s political climate, it’s more imperative than ever for noncitizens to secure strong legal representation as soon as possible when facing removal orders. Your attorney can assess the unique details of your case, recommend the most appropriate legal recourse, and fight to obtain a favorable outcome on your behalf.
- Gather necessary evidence and documentation – Your attorney will assist you in gathering the required supporting documents to build a strong case for relief. This may include evidence of good moral character, hardship factors, family ties, and more.
- File Form I-485 or other relevant documentation with USCIS – Depending on the relief option identified, your attorney will help you prepare and submit the appropriate applications to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to pursue a green card.
- Prepare to appear in immigration court – Your attorney will represent you in immigration court and present your case to the immigration judge. They will advocate for your eligibility for relief and fight against the issuance of a removal order.
- Consult with your attorney to establish next steps – Your lawyer can assist with any following decisions to appeal or motions to reopen.
Zealous Advocacy for Immigrants in Miami-Dade County
At Hubbs Law, P.A., our experienced attorneys have specialized experience in both immigration law and criminal defense, making our firm the trusted name for immigrants in Miami-Dade County. Our dedicated immigration lawyers have successfully navigated a variety of cases, from airport arrests to DACA immigration. If you’re facing removal orders in Florida, don’t wait to secure experienced representation to preserve your American dream and ensure that you and your loved ones can remain safely in the U.S.
U.S. immigration is complex and time-consuming. Turn to a Miami advocate you can trust. Call (305) 570-4802 to request a consultation.