As the family member of an individual facing removal proceedings, you are likely worried and stressed. Once the process begins, is there any way to stop what’s happening—to prevent your loved one from having to exit the United States?

What categories of relief are available?

There are two primary categories of deportation relief: discretionary relief and administrative/judicial relief. Within each category, there are different types of relief that your loved one may or may not qualify for. It may be helpful to review the various possibilities and discuss your options with a qualified immigration attorney.

What options, specifically, do these categories offer?

When removal proceedings are in process, your family member can try for discretionary relief. This means that they must convince an immigration judge that they qualify for relief—but it’s important to note that the burden of proof is on your family member. Forms of discretionary relief include:

  • Cancellation of removal
  • Asylum
  • Adjustment of status
  • Voluntary departure

If removal proceedings have already concluded, your family member can still attempt to get administrative/judicial relief, which means filing an appeal. If your family disagrees with the determination of an immigration judge, you can appeal directly to the Board of Immigration Appeals. This board has the power to overturn decisions.

Is deportation a foregone conclusion?

No. While removal proceedings are a serious matter, your family still has legal options to pursue—both during proceedings and after a judge has rendered a decision. Remember that the court system is a matter of cases and appeals—it is an ongoing process, not a predetermined matter. Immigration may be complicated, but it is by no means hopeless.