The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has the authority to place certain non-U.S. citizens
into removal proceedings before the Immigration Court. Removal proceedings begin with DHS
issuing and serving a document called a “Notice to Appear” (NTA) on the non-U.S. citizen. This
document notifies the individual to appear before an Immigration Judge. The NTA must also
state the reason(s) that DHS is placing the non-U.S. citizen is in removal proceedings. For
example, DHS may allege that a non-U.S. citizen is subject to deportation if they entered the
U.S. without inspection, if they overstayed their visa, or if they have committed or been
convicted of certain types of crimes. DHS has the authority to issue NTAs for both foreign
nationals and lawful permanent residents (green card holders). After receiving an NTA, a non-
U.S. citizen has an opportunity to challenge DHS’s allegation that they are subject to removal
before an Immigration Judge.
Even if a non-U.S. citizen is subject to removal, they will have an opportunity to present
applications for “relief” to show why they have the legal authority to remain in the United
States. There are various applications for relief available, but eligibility depends on the specific
facts in a person’s case. For example, a person may apply for “adjustment of status” to become
a lawful permanent resident if they have a qualifying U.S. citizen or LPR relative (see family-
based immigration section). Also, if a person has a fear of persecution in their home country,
they may apply for asylum (see asylum section).
An individual who has lived in the United States for a specific number of years may be eligible
apply for “cancellation of removal.” There are two different applications for cancellation of
removal: one for LPRs and one for non-LPRs. Each application has its own requirements and
Lastly, there are different types of “waivers” applications. These waivers either restore an
individuals’ LPR status or enables them to adjust their status to become an LPR before the
Overall, an individual’s eligibility for relief is highly fact-specific depending on an individual’s
personal circumstances and immigration history. If you’d like to learn more about your
eligibility for relief form deportation, schedule an appointment to discuss your case with the
Law Office of Lizette Sierra, P.A.
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