Getting a final removal order that says you must leave the country feels like the battle is over. You’ve lost and have no way to stay in the U.S. However, that isn’t always the case. That final order might not be as final as you think. There could be grounds for reopening the order and not only staying in the U.S., but also getting a green card.
What are some of the most common grounds for reopening a removal order?
- Change in the law. One of the interesting things we’ve seen is that the older the removal order, the more likely there has been a change in the law giving us grounds to reopen the order. We had a case where our client was ordered deported in 1996. He was working with another attorney for years who didn’t help him. When he came to us, we determined the law had changed in his favor. Not only could we reopen the removal order and keep him from being deported, but the client was grandfathered in under the new law and was eligible for a green card.
- Change in circumstances. If there are facts or evidence relevant to your case that you were previously unaware of and were not available to you or the court during the prior proceedings, you may be able to reopen your order. Also changed circumstances in your home country that make you afraid to return may also be grounds for reopening.
- Ineffective counsel. Unfortunately, sometimes lawyers may not as knowledgeable or competent as they should be. If your attorney’s actions were incompetent or fraudulent, then you may be able to reopen your order. We’ve handled cases from other attorneys who didn’t take proper care in advising clients or badly mishandled paperwork. We are strong believers in getting second opinions. Even if you’ve already hired someone and later you become unsatisfied with how your case is being handled or just have doubts, get a second opinion. An experienced attorney will not feel threatened by you getting another opinion. And if your lawyer was ineffective, then that second opinion can keep you from being deported.
The key point with any of the above grounds is that you also have to show that if the removal order is reopened, you are eligible for a green card (or adjustment of status). There isn’t any point in reopening the order if there are no grounds that would allow you to get a green card. So if you are speaking with an attorney, you should understand how they would get your order reopened as well as how they can get you on a path to permanent residency.
There are other grounds for reopening a removal order not discussed here and you should always contact an experienced attorney to help. If you have received a removal order or are afraid of being deported, contact us for a consultation.