In 1997 i applied for some sort of asylum and was denied. This resulted in a voluntary departure order. Needless to say, i didn't leave and i understand that this then became a removal order and a 10 year ineligibility of any sort of immigration program. In 2001 i applied for legal resident through my wife but because of the ineligibility my whole application was returned after i sent in my fingerprints and payment of fine. how can i know if this latter case resulted in a complete withdrawl or if in fact i dug a deeper hole and am now in fact ineligible for a longer time? i should mention that my then wife and i divorced and she lost all my immigration documents so i have nothing to go on but name and dob.
When your wife filed the I-130 visa petition for you, and you filed the I-485, the most likely thing that would have happened is that the former INS would have accepted the I-130, but rejected the I-485. A person who has been ordered removed (deported) can be the beneficiary of a family visa petition. However, once a person is in deportation proceedings, only the judge and not immigration has the authority to decide the I-485 adjustment of status application. So, INS would have rejected the green card application but let the petition go forward. If you entered without a visa, or you are seeking status any other way than as the close family member of a U.S. citizen (employer, a brother who is a citizen sponsored you, etc), then the fact of the I-130 filing could mean you are covered by section 245(i) (the $1000 fine law)--even if it was never approved. That excuses certain immigration violations and allows someone to change their status in the U.S despite the violations. In the absence of some marriage fraud or something of this nature, the filing of the application could not have harmed you and would definitely not extend any period of ineligibility.
You are ineligible for adjustment of status for ten years after your failure to voluntarily depart. More significantly, the only way to apply for adjustment is in the context of your removal proceeding. This requires a motion to reopen. It is difficult to make that happen because there is usually a 90 day limit. But, you would want to speak to an attorney and review you file to investigate. Sometimes cases are reopened for exceptional circumstances, such as serious medical hardship to a child or because the respondent was the victim of errors by a prior attorney or a notario.
You are right as to the voluntary departure converting into deportation if you did not depart at the date you should and yes you are right as to the consequences such as 10 years ineligibility to apply for certain immigration figures such as adjustment of status.
You have an Alien number and I recommend you to submit a FOIA requesting your records and specifically any deportation order or other action taken against you. Normally when a person do not depart the country at the date and time indicated, that person is subject to be detained and removed at any time by ICE and I have seen cases when years have passed and the person has been detained at their residence and kept in custody until an action is taken to take him out pending future legal actions to prevent the removal.
Get a FOIA prepared and submitted and you can see what is going on. I really think you need to get an attorney to work with you in this case and to get the answers you really need.
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