Deportation May Not Be the End of the World

After years of struggle and hope for legal status, sometimes immigrants leave the United States without any hope of ever returning after being ordered deported. However, case law may provide a deported immigrant hope of returning to the United States. Now, an order of deportation may not be the end of the world.

A potential immigrant may be able to file a Motion to Reopen their deportation case from outside the country. In the past, statutes and case law limited the ability to file a Motion to Reopen for non-citizens who were physically present in the U.S. Passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, “IIRIRA” opened the door to the possibility of a non-citizen living abroad filing a Motion to Reopen.

All the U.S. Courts of Appeals that have addressed this particular issue have come to the conclusion that a non-citizen who lives out of the United States has the right to file a motion to reopen their immigration proceedings in the U.S. In Contreras-Bocanegra, the United States Court of Appeals in the Tenth Circuit held that a non-citizen was not barred from pursuing their case after departure or deportation.

What does this mean? Now, one may be able to fight their case by filing a Motion to Reopen removal proceedings, even if the alien now resides outside of the United States! So, whether an alien is in the United States or not, there may be hope to reopen the case and fight to return to the U.S. legally.

There are many different grounds upon which one can bring a Motion to Reopen. These include, but are not limited to: 1) abuse of discretion on the part of the immigration judge, 2) changed circumstances occurring since the adjudication of an application for relief, 3) ineffective assistance of counsel; or 4) lack of notice of the proceedings resulting in an order of deportation.

This is by no means an extensive list of grounds upon which a motion may be brought. Some motions to reopen are also restricted as to time and number. However, if you or someone you love has departed the United States, it is essential to consult an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney concerning eligibility of filing a motion to reopen.