Can You Return to the U.S. After Being Deported?

Coming back to the U.S. after having been deported is a difficult proposition, and a complicated process, but it's not impossible.

A foreign national who has been deported from the U.S. will find it tough to get another visa or green card allowing reentry. But it's not necessarily impossible. Reentry procedures following deportation vary based on the reason why the person was deported in the first place, the number of violations, and more, as discussed below.

Of course, if you're planning to apply for reentry, you'll need some basis upon which to do so, such as eligibility for a visa or green card.

Typical Grounds Upon Which People Get Deported

The reasons for deportation usually fall into one of the following four categories:

  1. The alien was inadmissible when he or she either entered the country or adjusted his status (got a green card), or the alien violated the terms of his or her immigration status.
  2. The alien was charged with any of various criminal offenses that result in deportability
  3. The alien failed to register with the immigration authorities when required, or falsified documents
  4. The alien appears to be a threat to U.S. security .

There are different types of waivers for each ground of removal, with the exception of security-related grounds. No waiver is available to an alien found to pose a security threat.

If an alien was removed because of an aggravated felony, he likely has to stay out of the U.S. for 20 years.  If he was removed for a lesser charge, he may have to wait five or ten years before applying for a waiver.  The severity of the grounds for removal will affect the likelihood of approval for a waiver. 

Removal Time Varies Based on Type and Number of Violations

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), aliens are "inadmissible for the period specified in I.N.A. [Immigration and Nationality Act] Section 212(a)(9)(A), depending on the basis of the prior removal and on how many times they have been removed. Departure while a removal order is in effect also makes someone inadmissible under INA Section 212(a)(9)(A). INA Section 212(a)(9)(C) makes individuals who return or attempt to return to the United States without admission inadmissible if they:

  • were removed from the United States, or
  • had been unlawfully present in the United States for more than a year, in the aggregate."

There are different restrictions on reentry depending on the reason for removal and the number of times a person has been removed. The consequences become more severe following each removal. 

The consequences also vary based on whether an alien leaves the United States before removal hearings or after. An alien who agrees to leave the United States before attending removal hearings may be allowed to enter the United States sooner in the future than if the alien fights the removal, participates in removal hearings, and is eventually ordered to be removed. An alien who would have left the U.S. voluntarily but who could not afford the transportation to leave is also more likely to succeed in getting a waiver than someone who refused to leave voluntarily and could afford the transportation out of the U.S.

Summary of Waiting Time for Application for Reentry   

Here are the typical wait times for reentry:

Five Years

  • Aliens ordered removed in an expedited removal proceeding
  • Aliens removed through removal proceedings initiated upon the alien’s arrival in the U.S.

Ten Years

Twenty Years

  • Aliens ordered removed more than once

Permanent Bar on Admissibility

Apply for Permission to Reapply

Following deportation, an alien must file Form I-212 Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States after deportation or removal. You can ask permission to enter the U.S. after being removed before the required waiting time is complete by filing Form I-212.

You must submit all paperwork and correspondence regarding your removal along with your application.  You must also submit documentation of your relationship to anyone you listed as a relative in Item 18 on the application.  Documentation such as birth and marriage certificates will prove your relationship. If your relative is a U.S. citizen, you will need to include a copy of his alien registration number or birth certificate as proof of citizenship.

Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility

Depending on the reason for your removal, you will likely also need to submit Form I-601 which is an Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility. While filing Form I-212 may remove the prior removal restrictions, the Form I-601 is needed to remove the grounds for removal, i.e., a waiver for a conviction of a crime of moral turpitude.

The form should be submitted to the local immigration office where the removal hearing was held. An alien applying while abroad should file Form I-601 with the American Consul processing the visa application. You can also file Form I-601 prior to departure from the United States with the local office which has jurisdiction over your place of residence.

See Reentry To The U.S. After Removal for more on the process and what you'll need to prove.

A Private Attorney Will Be Necessary

Returning to the United States following deportation is a complicated process, which requires an alien to prove to the that he or she is worthy of a second chance. An experienced immigration attorney can help prepare all the proper documents as well as help put forth the best case possible for reentry into the United States. Unfortunately, foreign nationals are not afforded an attorney to represent them - they must find and hire their own private immigration lawyer.

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