Adjustment of Status
You may qualify to adjust your status to that of a permanent resident through a family member who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, or through potential employment in the United States. In some situations, the ability to adjust your status can be used as a defense in your deportation case. If you are married to a U.S. citizen, or if you have a son or daughter who is over 21 years old, or if you are a minor son or daughter of a U.S. citizen, you may be able to qualify for immediate adjustment to permanent resident status. If you have any relatives who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, you should discuss those relationships with your attorney immediately.
Cancellation of Removal
If you are already a Permanent Resident (Green Card holder), to qualify for Cancellation of Removal, you would have to show: 1) you have resided in the U.S. continuously for seven (7) years after having been admitted in any status, 2) you have been a permanent resident for five (5) years, 3) you have not been convicted of an aggravated felony, 4) you deserve the Judge's favorable discretion. If you are not a Permanent Resident, to qualify for Cancellation of Removal, you would have to show: 1) you have resided in the U.S. continuously for ten (10) years, 2) you are a person of good moral character, meaning that you do not have a significant criminal history, and are an honest person, 3) your removal would result in exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to a a U.S. citizen or Permanent Resident relative. This is a very difficult standard to prove. If you win your case for Cancellation of Removal, you will be eligible to apply to adjust your status to a permanent resident.
You may qualify for asylum if you can show that you have a credible fear of returning to your home country because of past persecution, or because you have a well-founded fear of future persecution. If you qualify for asylum, you can ask the Court to terminate your deportation case. To qualify for asylum, you must show: 1) you have suffered persecution in the past in your home country, or that you have a well-founded fear of persecution in the future, 2) that the persecution you suffered or will suffer is because of your race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group, and You would not be protected from that persecution in your home country You must apply for Asylum within one year of entering the United States. There are only a few exceptions to this rule, such as if there have been recent significant changes in the circumstances of your home country that would now qualify you for asylum.
Withholding of Removal
Withholding of Removal is similar to asylum, but does not provide as many benefits or a permanent status. To qualify for withholding of removal, you must show that if you were deported to your home country, there is a clear probability that you would suffer persecution based on your race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. You may only apply for withholding of removal if you are in deportation proceedings. Many people who do not meet the one-year filing requirement for asylum may qualify for withholding of removal. If you are granted withholding of removal, you will not be deported and will be able to work in the U.S., but you will not be able apply for adjustment of status to a permanent resident.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (D.A.C.A.)
Under a new government program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), certain immigrants who were brought to the U.S. in their youth may qualify for a work permit and temporary protection from deportation. To qualify for DACA, you must show: 1. You arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16 2. You are currently at least 15 years old, but not older than 30 3. You have resided in the U.S. for at least five years 4. You are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have earned your GED, or are currently enrolled in a GED program, and 5. You have no felonies on your criminal record, and have no more than two total crimes of any sort on your criminal record If you qualify for DACA, you can request that the Court terminate your deportation proceedings. You will not be granted permanent residence or citizenship, but you will have temporary protection from deportation for two years, with the possibility of a two-year extension at the end of that period.
The government attorneys who are prosecuting your case have the ability to agree to administratively close your case if they feel that continuing with the case does not meet ICE's enforcement priorities. We are able to make an official request that the attorneys consider the case for closure, which they can do through Prosecutorial Discretion. They are supposed to base the decision on whether to close the case on 19 factors provided by the Director of ICE, including your criminal record, immigration record, ties to the community, education, and length of time in the United States. The decision to grant prosecutorial discretion is left to the government attorney, not the judge. If you are granted prosecutorial discretion, your deportation case will be closed. However, you will not be given any type of status, and you will not be able to obtain a work permit or driver's license.
If you do not qualify for any other forms of relief, you may request that the Court grant voluntary departure. If granted, you will usually be given a certain period of time to depart from the country (up to 120 days), and will be able to do so on your own rather than under an official order of deportation from the Immigration Court. You also will not be subject to a 10-year inadmissibility bar that usually follows a deportation, although you may be subject to other unlawful presence bars. To be clear, to qualify for Voluntary Departure, you must request it from the Court. If you choose to just leave on your own before your Court hearing, a deportation order could still be entered against you in your absence.