Thinking of reentering the US after removal (deportation)? Read this before you border cross

We know how it goes.

You’ve been removed (deported), but your life and family are back in the United States. The first thing to know is that even as an illegal immigrant who is being removed, you have rights. There are many legal ways to fight deportation, so don’t panic.

And don’t immediately think about coming back illegally.

Maybe you know of a person who snuck back in after removal, living back with their family, and working in the US. 

I have spoken to many folks in this position, who call me from countries where they have not resided in many years.

I have to tell them all the same thing. DO NOT try to re-enter the US after removal, until you have spoken to a lawyer, and are clear to do so legally.

There are ways to get back into the US legally after you have been removed, and many serious reasons not to try and do it under the radar.

Can I get back into the US after removal?

Yes, there is a legal path for reentry to the US after removal. This path generally starts with overcoming a bar to entry into the United States. After that point the individual may apply for reentry into the country. Yes, this is a huge hardship for many people, but it IS the law.

Do I have to wait that long? How do I get into the US early after being deported?

Many people are able to get back into the US legally before their entry ban is up. There are several ways to apply for early reentry into the US.

***STRONGLY RECOMMENDED: Consult with an experienced immigration law firm before filing any of the following:

  1. File Form 1-212:
    Called the “Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission Into the United States After Deportation or Removal,”  this form asks for USCIS consent to re-enter the US after removal. You will be asked to provide evidence of how long you have been out of the country as well as a host of evidence showing why you should receive this deportation waiver.
  2. File a Waiver of inadmissibility of Unlawful Presence:
    The I-601 waiver was expanded in 2016, and is specifically to help people with families, and under duress from having the face the 3-10 bar of reentry. The process can take 2 or more years, but this is much better than the typical 10 years you can be barred otherwise.
  3. Appeal the decision: 
    Many people don’t realize that they can appeal the deportation decision. There are time limits involved, so look into this right away.
  4. Leave voluntarily before you are deported:
    An alien who left the U.S. voluntarily and was not legally removed or deported by the U.S. government can apply to reenter the U.S. without filing an I-212 BUT will almost always need an I-601.

What happens if you try to illegally get back into the US after removal?

1) You will likely get caught

Removal prosecutions for illegal reentry into the US went up 76% during the Obama administration, and are still high. In 2013 just short of 100,000 were prosecuted criminally for Reentry After Deportation and Illegal Entry. While most immigrants (77%) are in the country legally, there are almost a quarter who are unauthorized, according to new Pew Research Center estimates . This means that illegal immigrants – border crossers – represent 23% of the 45.6 million foreign-born residents in the U.S. in 2017. And this number is triple the 3.5 million in 1990. Trump has been cracking down on border crossers with highly publicized ICE raids, and Zero Tolerance Immigration policy. 

In the past year alone more than 112,000 people were prosecuted for illegal entry or re-entry. Detention is not a place you want yourself or a family member to be.

2) If caught, you can be sentenced to prison time

Under federal law (8 U.S.C. § 1325), anyone who enters the Unites States illegally the first time is committing a misdemeanor and can be sentenced to a fine or to six months in prison. Moreover, Re-Entry after removal is a felony with potentially lengthy jail time.

You will likely be permanently barred from the United States if you illegally reenter after a prior removal.

There were 71,003 cases reported to the United States Sentencing Commision in fiscal year 2015 – of these cases 9311 involved illegal reentry. That means that  81.9% of all immigration offenders were sentenced for illegal reentry.

Most of these were male (96.6%) and Hispanic ( 98.7%).

And here’s another statistic: 98.7% of those charged were sentenced to prison with an average of 16 months, but with sentences that can range between 3-8 years. Once you have been sentenced criminally, your chances of getting into the country legally become very slim.

IF you’ve been removed, it’s time to get a good immigration lawyer

IT is a BAD IDEA to try to illegally reenter after removal, but some people feel they have no choice, particularly those returned to countries in which violence is rampant.

If you really feel you need to get back into the country, but don’t know how, please call the best immigration attorney you can find. There may be a way to work on your case. 

For more information or if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us at Harlan York & Associates.

Written by: Harlan York

Immigration Attorney Harlan York is Former Chair, Immigration Section, NJ State Bar Association and Former Co-Chair, NY State Bar Association CFLS Immigration Committee. Mr. York appeared on National Television on CBS This Morning with Charlie Rose and Primer Impacto on Univision, as well as Telemundo, NBC, and PBS. He was honored as First Ever Immigration Lawyer of The Year in NJ by Best Lawyers.

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