A Deportation Appeal Can Stop Removal. Here’s Why (and When) You Should File One

  1. Can I Be Deported For An Administrative Error?
  2. Why is a deportation appeal so important?
  3. Do I need to meet with a lawyer in person to start a deportation appeal?
  4. Is it too late for me to file a deportation appeal?

There has been a lot of talk about illegal immigrants and deportation for the past week in the US.  Getting deported is one of the main fears we hear when people come to our office. For many people, receiving a notice of deportation, (or worse – getting put into detention) can feel like the end of the line for their dreams of living lawfully in the US.

But there is something you can do if you or a loved one are in this situation – especially if it wasn’t through any fault of your own.

Thousands of immigrants who “failed to heed” deportation orders had NO IDEA that they were ever ordered deported. These people didn’t go to court because they DID NOT KNOW that a hearing had been scheduled. Sometimes extraordinary events occur, and you can’t make your hearing, or didn’t understand what was expected because of language barriers, or sometimes there is an address mix up. We have seen all kinds of cases, and effectively helped many people through filing Deportation Appeals.

Can I really be deported for an administrative error like a wrong address?


The Immigration Act allows the Immigration Court to order someone deported if he fails to appear before an Immigration Judge — this may even be the result of absence at a green card interview. There can be many reasons someone might miss their interview, but address changes are one of the most common.

Here is an example of a case we won:

A woman from another country met a US citizen. They fell in love and got married. The wife filed papers to get her green card. While they waited to be interviewed by Immigration, the husband was transferred by his company to another state. Before moving, the couple informed the Immigration Service that they were changing their address. They received confirmation that Immigration KNEW they had relocated.

However, the green card interview (NOT A DEPORTATION HEARING) was mistakenly scheduled in the state where the couple had previously lived.When they failed to show up for the interview, a notice for the wife to appear at a deportation hearing was also sent to their old address.

Of course, the woman didn’t know she had to go to court. So, she was ordered deported. Immigration and Customs Enforcement located her and took her to a detention center to prepare to deport her. The US citizen hired us to get his wife out of jail and stop her deportation. It took a few weeks, but we were successful.

Why is a deportation appeal so important?

In many cases, the person in question has done nothing “wrong” – but they could still be deported or detained. The above case shows how people write to Immigration when they move, but the government can still mail the notice to the prior address. AND IN THE MAJORITY OF THESE MATTERS IT CAN TAKE A LOT LONGER THAN A FEW WEEKS TO GET THE IMMIGRANT RELEASED if detention has occurred.

We have represented thousands of immigrants in deportation cases. Often, we have helped people who never received a letter from the Immigration Court.

Do I need to meet with a lawyer in person to start a deportation appeal?

We do not always need to meet with the person in question to file an appeal. We can prepare written arguments after we review the lower court’s ruling. An immigrant (or relative) may retain our service by mail. While you can file for your own appeal, once you are facing deportation or detention, I strongly advise getting help from a top immigration lawyer who knows the ins and outs and won’t make another mistake like the one that got you into trouble in the first place.

Is it too late for me to file a deportation appeal?

  • There are no time limits to try to reopen a deportation order with no proper notice. In a 2007 decision, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a deportation order in which the immigrant never received a notice of hearing sent by regular mail.
  • In 2006, the same Court of Appeals held that the Immigration Court must notify an immigrant’s attorney about a hearing. Failure to give notice to the lawyer violates due process.
  • Frequently, when notices are prepared, the day of the hearing is not even listed. Instead, the document states date and time are “to be set.” This creates a major problem in properly notifying an immigrant of a hearing.

If you or a loved one have received a notice of deportation, or have been put in detention DON’T PANIC and CALL AN IMMIGRATION LAWYER, many people can have their deportation notice overturned and continue on to the path of getting a green card. If you have questions about this or any other immigration related questions, please do not hesitate to contact my office 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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