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 United States will find it tough to get another visa or green card allowing reentry. But it's not necessarily impossible. Reentry procedures following deportation from the United States vary, depending on the reason why the person was deported in the first place, the number of relevant violations on record, and more, as discussed below.

Of course, if you are planning to apply for reentry to the United States, you will need some basis upon which to do so, such as eligibility for a visa or green card.

Typical Grounds Upon Which Non-Citizens Get Deported

The reasons for non-citizens' deportation usually fall into one of four categories. They either:

  1. entered the United States without permission
  2. were inadmissible when last entering the United States or adjusted status (got a green card), or violated the terms of their immigration status
  3. were charged with any of various criminal offenses that result in deportability.
  4. failed to register with U.S. immigration authorities when required, or falsified documents, or
  5. appear 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 non-citizen found to pose a security threat to the United States.

An non-citizen who was removed because of an aggravated felony likely has to stay out of the U.S. for 20 years. If removed for a lesser charge, the non-citizen might have to wait 5 or 10 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

Foreign nationals are inadmissible for the period specified in I.N.A. (Immigration and Nationality Act) § 212(a)(9)(A) or 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(9)(A), depending on the basis of the prior removal and on how many times they have been removed from the United States.

Departure while a removal order is still in effect also makes someone inadmissible under I.N.A. § 212(a)(9)(A). It makes people 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 they've been removed. The consequences become more severe following each removal.

The consequences also vary based on whether people leave the United States before removal hearings or after. Those who agree to leave the United States before attending removal hearings ("voluntary departure") might be allowed to enter the United States sooner in the future than if they fight the removal, participate in removal hearings, and are eventually ordered to be removed.

A foreign national who would have left the United States voluntarily but for the fact that they 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 United States.

Summary of Waiting Times for Immigrants to Apply for U.S. Reentry After Having Been Removed

Here are the typical require legally required wait times for reentry to the United States after deportation:

Five Years

  • People ordered removed in an expedited removal proceeding.
  • People deported after removal proceedings initiated upon the arrival in the United States.

Ten Years

Twenty Years

  • People who have been ordered removed more than once.

Permanent Bar on Admissibility

Applying for Permission to Reapply for U.S. Entry

Following deportation, a foreign national would need to file Form I-212 Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States After Deportation or Removal. This lets you ask USCIS for permission to submit an application to re-enter the United States. (In other words, it's a multi-step process!)

You must submit all paperwork and correspondence regarding your removal along with your I-212 application. You must also submit documentation of your relationship to anyone you listed as a relative 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 either that person's alien registration number or birth certificate as proof of U.S. immigration status.

Applying for a Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility

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

The form should be submitted to the local immigration office where the removal hearing was held. If applying from abroad, you should file Form I-601 with the U.S. consulate processing the visa application. You can also file Form I-601 prior to departure from the United States, with the local office that 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 proving to the U.S. government that one 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 given a free attorney by the government to represent them, but must find and hire their own private immigration lawyer, or find one willing to work for low cost if needed.

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