Written by Avvo Staff

How to reenter the US after deportation

What deportation means for you

Reentry after deportation is difficult but not impossible for eligible noncitizens. Read on for a summary of US deportation laws and what you can do after you've been removed from the country.

Verifying deportation

To know which avenue of reentry is best for you, you first need to determine whether an immigration judge (IJ) issued a removal order against you. Judges sometimes allow voluntary departure instead, which would have allowed you to avoid an order of removal by leaving the country by a certain date.

If you left voluntarily instead of as the result of a deportation proceeding, you might be eligible to reenter the United States sooner, depending on how long you were in the country unlawfully. You can call the Department of Justice's immigration hotline to check your deportation records for an order.

Reasons for deportation

Whether you can return to the United States will depend on the reason you were deported. The most common reasons for deportation include:

  1. Immigrant was inadmissible upon initially entering the United States or otherwise violated the terms of his/her immigration status. These noncitizens can typically reenter 5 years after their removal date.

  2. Immigrant was criminally charged with a deportable offense. This category faces the harshest consequences and may be permanently inadmissible.

  3. Immigrant did not register with immigration authorities.

  4. Immigrant poses a threat to national security. Noncitizens who pose a security risk can never return.

Length of reentry bans

The length of the wait time for reentry after deportation varies according to the reason for removal. Here are the length of the reentry bans for various deportable offenses:

  • Five years. Immigrants removed in an expedited deportation proceeding; inadmissible aliens removed upon arrival to the United States

  • Ten years. Immigrants against whom an IJ issued an order of removal at the end of a removal hearing; immigrants who left the United States while a removal order was pending.

  • 20 years. Immigrants who have been removed more than once.

  • Permanent. Immigrants convicted of aggravated felonies, as defined by Congress; noncitizens who reenter the country illegally after being removed. (Aggravated felonies don't have to be aggravated or felonies to meet Congress' definition. Aggravated felonies for immigration purposes include crimes such as prostitution, theft, and tax evasion.)

Process of reentry

The deportation laws of the United States allow some previously removed aliens opportunities to reenter the country. Some of these options are not available until after the time bar expires. Here's a summary of the processes necessary for various avenues of reentry:

  • Asylum. You might be able to reenter by filing a motion to reopen your case and claiming asylum. Your claim must prove that conditions in your country have changed or worsened to the point that you are not safe.

  • Hardship. You may be able to overcome certain removal orders by proving extreme hardship to a close relative, such as a spouse, child, or parent. To claim hardship, you must submit waiver request Form I-212 (Reapplying for Admission after Deportation) and Form I-601 (Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility).

  • Job. Getting a job in the United States will help strengthen your case when you submit your waiver request, but it is not a guarantee of reentry.

  • Marriage. Ordinarily, marriage to a US citizen would be a fast track to a green card, but it's not that easy if you've been deported. You'll still need to submit Form I-212 for a waiver of inadmissibility.

Consequences of illegal reentry after deportation

Returning to the United States after being deported is a felony offense that could get you permanently banned from the country, in addition to a host of other consequences. You might face federal criminal charges for which you could be imprisoned for anywhere between 2 and 20 years. You may also have to pay hefty fines.

While deportation certainly makes reentry into the United States more difficult, it is not out of the question for certain noncitizens. If you're eligible for reentry and follow the processes explained here, you have a strong chance of returning to the United States

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