Deportation Proceedings

It is possible to face deportation proceedings while detained by immigration in their detention centers or while serving a criminal sentence. Whether detained or not, at the Galindo Law Office we are able to represent you.

Are deportation and removal proceedings the same?

In essence yes, deportation and removal proceedings are the same thing. Both names are used to refer to the legal hearing in immigration court in which the U.S. government seeks the physical removal of a foreign national unlawfully present in the United States. Technically however deportation and removal proceedings are different as each entail different legal rights and procedures. Removal proceedings is the current and correct way to refer to the removal process of a foreign national from the United States versus deportation proceedings which used to be under older immigration law.

What is the deportation process in a U.S. immigration court?

The deportation or removal process consists of at least two hearings before the immigration judge in immigration court. The deportation process entails you presenting yourself before the court and presenting the legal basis of your case that would permit you to stay in the United States.

Attorney Liza Galindo explains the deportation process in detail so you know what you can expect when going to immigration court.

When do deportation proceedings start?

Upon the issuance of a Notice to Appear (NTA), a foreign national faces deportation from the United States.  This deportation process is commonly called removal proceedings. The deportation process usually consists of two types of hearings before an immigration judge.  These two hearings are the master hearing and individual or merits hearings.

What is a Notice to Appear (NTA)?

A Notice to Appear is a document issued by one of the immigration agencies that begin the deportation or removal proceedings against you once it is filed with the immigration court.

Attorney Liza Galindo explains in detail how the NTA initiates the removal proceedings against a foreign national.

What is a Master Hearing in immigration court?

A master hearing is the first hearing in the deportation process.  During this hearing, the foreign national appears before the immigration judge and must respond to the allegations and charges listed in the Notice to Appear (NTA). The foreign national may appear alone or if she or he can afford, they can appear with an immigration attorney who would speak on their behalf.  If the foreign national does not speak English, the immigration court provides the interpreter necessary. It is during this hearing that the foreign national must inform the judge of what relief is sought before the court to avoid deportation.

 Attorney Liza Galindo explains what you can expect to happen at a master hearing.

What is an Individual Hearing?
A merits hearing sometimes also referred to as an individual hearing is the hearing during which the foreign national presents his or her case before the court. During this hearing, testimony is taken, evidence is reviewed and the judge usually by the end of the hearing decides whether to grant the relief sought.  If the judge decides to deny, this means the foreign national has an order of removal.  Sometimes the court requires additional time to review and render its decision at a later time.

 It is referred to as an individual hearing because unlike a master hearing in which many foreign nationals are scheduled to appear at the same time, in a merit hearing there is only one foreign national, hence the reference to an individual.

Attorney Liza Galindo explains what you can expect to happen at an individual hearing and what the outcome of the hearing means for you.

What is a Call Up Date?

A call up date is a deadline; it’s a date the immigration court gives a foreign national to submit the application and evidence of the relief sought.  This date is very important as failure to comply with the deadline could result in the court considering the application abandoned.

Attorney Liza Galindo explains what a call up date is and why it is important not to miss such a deadline in the deportation process in Spanish.

What phone number can I call to know the status of my immigration court case?

You can call the EOIR (Executive Office of Immigration Review) automated case information system at 1-800-898-7180 to find out some basic information regarding your case with the immigration court including the status of an appeal with the Board of Immigration Appeals. However, in order to obtain information about your case, you will need to provide your Alien Number or A Number.

What is my alien number or A number?

In the United States, as a foreign national it is important for you to know what your alien number is. Your alien number is more commonly known as your A number which consists of nine digits usually in the A#123-456-789 format.

Generally, when you file for an immigration benefit before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) begins the deportation process against you, they issue this 9 digit number to you. This number appears in almost all receipts and notices you receive from immigration.

Attorney Liza Galindo explains what the alien number is.

Will the immigration court provide me with an attorney to represent me?

Unlike in criminal court, legal representation will not be provided to you if you cannot one afford one. The immigration court will give you an opportunity to retain legal representation, but you must be able to pay the attorney you choose.

While the legal representation will not be provided by the court, the immigration court will provide you with a list of charitable organizations that offer free or legal representation at little cost. However, as the demand is high with these organizations, you may find that you are not able to retain the representation you need in a timely manner.

Family Based Petitions

It is possible to petition for certain relatives whether they live in the United States or abroad.  At the Galindo Law Office we can help you lawfully bring a relative from abroad to live or visit in the United States or help you legalize the status of a relative who is already in the United States.

Who is considered an immediate relative?

Being classified as an immediate relative is significant as it offers certain beneficial protections under the U.S. immigration laws. Attorney Liza R. Galindo explains the importance of being classified as an immediate relative.

As a U.S. citizen, who can I petition for?

A U.S. citizen can petition for their spouse, parent, child regardless of age and marital status and also for their brother or sister.

As a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR), who can I petition for?

A lawful permanent resident, a person with a U.S. green card, can petition for their spouse and child so long as the child is and remains unmarried during the processing of the petition.

I am engaged to a U.S. citizen; does it matter where we get married?
I married a U.S. citizen; can I get my green card?

Yes, you generally are able to legalize your status and obtain your green card if you are married to a United States citizen no matter where you were married.  However, what determines the way you will get your lawful permanent resident status (green card) is based on your manner of entry to the United States.

Attorney Liza Galindo explains the two manners in which you may be able to obtain your green card based on marriage to a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident.

Does my spouse have to attend my interview with immigration?

Generally yes, you and your spouse must attend an interview with immigration when your spouse has filed a relative petition on your behalf.  Immigration does offer special accommodations if your spouse is not able to physically be present.


U.S. Citizenship

After having the requisite time of being a lawful permanent resident, you may be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship. Whether you’re young, older requiring a special accommodation, serving in the military, a frequent traveler or someone who has a previous arrest record, at the Galindo Law Office we can help you determine your eligibility and help you fulfil your dream of becoming naturalized United States citizen.

How soon can I apply for U.S. citizenship?
How soon you can apply for U.S. citizenship depends on the basis of your filing.  You can apply for U.S. citizen once you have five (5) years as a lawful permanent resident.  You can file within three (3) years of being of a lawful permanent resident if you have been married to a U.S. citizen for those three years and continue to remain married. You can also apply within one of being a lawful permanent resident if you have done U.S. military service for at least one year. Once you determine your basis of eligibility, you can technically submit your application 90 days before meeting the 5 or 3 years requirement.  That is, you could file within 4 years 9 months if filing based solely on being a LPR or within 2 years 9 months if you’re filing based on being married to a U.S. citizen.

 Attorney Liza Galindo explains in detail when you can apply for United States citizenship in Spanish.

Can I apply directly for U.S. citizenship?

The answer is generally no.  One must first be a lawful permanent resident before being eligible to filing for U.S. citizenship.  However, there is an exception for someone who has served in the U.S. military during a time designated as hostility (INA 329); such a person can apply directly for U.S. citizenship.

Can I become a United States citizen through a relative?

In order to become a United States citizen, you must first be a lawful permanent resident.  A relative can possibly help you become a lawful permanent resident.  A U.S. citizen spouse can help you be eligible for U.S. citizenship earlier rather than the standard 5 years of lawful permanent residence requirement, but you must still apply independently.

Attorney Liza Galindo explains how a relative can help you.

At the Galindo Law Office we have over 15 years of experience representing foreign nationals before the different immigration agencies.  It is in your best interest to have competent legal representation on your side when dealing with immigration.

Does it really matter if I hire an immigration attorney or a notary to represent me before immigration?

Hiring an attorney is not the same as hiring a notary as they do not offer the same legal protections. Moreover, while a notary could possibly represent you before certain immigration agencies, a notary cannot represent you in immigration court.

Attorney Liza R. Galindo explains the difference in hiring a notary versus a lawyer.

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Why should I hire an immigration attorney?
The U.S. immigration laws are complex and ever changing. Hiring an immigration attorney that specializes in immigration is to your benefit to ensure that your loved one or employee can promptly and adequately file their paper work with immigration to ensure their applications are not delayed or worst denied for failure to properly file.

What factors should I consider when hiring an immigration attorney?

When hiring an immigration attorney, there are three factors you should consider when deciding who would be ideal to help you with your immigration need.

Attorney Liza R. Galindo explains what three factors you should at minimum consider when retaining legal counsel to represent you before immigration.

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How long will my case take once I file with immigration?
The processing time of your case depends on the type of case you have filed and which office in particular under USCIS, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, is handling your case.

If you have filed a case with immigration and want to know how long it takes, there is a way to go to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website (uscis.gov) and using your receipt find out how long your case should approximately take with immigration.

Attorney Liza R. Galindo explains how you can find out how long your case will take with immigration.

What is a FOIA?

FOIA stands for Freedom of Information Act and refers to the section of law that permits one to request a federal agency to provide records on any topic. In immigration, a FOIA, is referred to a request a foreign national submits to immigration to request a copy of his/her file with immigration.

Should I FOIA my case with immigration?

Yes. If you have ever filed anything with immigration or have had any encounter, it is highly advisable to do a FOIA with all possible agencies that may have a record. Immigration attorneys usually use and offer this service when a foreign national has had previous interactions with immigration or if they were ever stopped crossing the U.S. border as it is helpful in being able to determine and properly offer a legal recommendation.

 Attorney Liza Galindo explains what FOIA is and why it is important to do a FOIA with immigration.

What should I do if I have a green card and need to travel out of the U.S. for more than a year?

It is advisable to get a re-entry permit if you plan on traveling frequently or if you plan on traveling for more than a year so that you can maintain your lawful permanent resident status.

Attorney Liza Galindo explains the risks associated with frequent and lengthy travel outside of the United States while having a lawful permanent resident status.

Do I need to get a sticker on my green card to extend my status?
It is no longer necessary to get a sticker on your green card when it expires in order to extend your status.  If you have a green card was issued for a 10 years period, the receipt from filing to renew your green card now serves as evidence that you remain lawfully in the United States and can travel or work without a problem.

Attorney Liza Galindo explains this update in the immigration process when your green card expires and you file to renew it.

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