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My Relative is Petitioning for Me But I Just Found Out I have a Removal Order Against Me—What Can I do?

A removal order in your record will not allow you to get a green card. Sometimes, people do not know that a Judge issued a removal order against them in the past. The removal order may be decades old or may be as recent as this week. The reasons are many: their attorneys did not inform them of their hearing dates, so they did not show up at the hearing; they never received the hearing date in the mail; they intentionally missed the hearing; etc.

The remedy to getting rid of this removal order will depend on the reason a green card applicant has that order in the first place. A consultation with an attorney can shed light on the type of evidence the applicant will need to ask a court to terminate the removal order. Sometimes motions, forms, and proper evidence need to be filed with the court that issued the removal order. Judges do not take these motions lightly and it is highly discouraged to file several motions in a given case for fear of giving the impression that the applicant thinks he or she deserves multiple bites at the apple. The best way to deal with this is to do it right the first time.

An attorney can also negotiate with the attorneys representing the federal government—these attorneys will sometimes oppose to a motion filed by an applicant. Communicating with the attorneys for the government is important to improve an applicant’s chances to get an approval on a motion.

In the event that an applicant suspects he or she may have a removal order on record, the applicant can search his or her own immigration history with the Department of Justice (the Courts), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), or Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The search is done as a FOIA request (Freedom of Information Act), which can be one by the applicant himself or with the help of an attorney.

If you or someone you know is thinking about applying for a green card or suspects there may be a removal order on his record, have this person consult with an attorney to determine what steps he or she should take to avoid a green card denial.

Johanna Cochran, Associate Attorney


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