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How do I know if I have been issued a past removal order?

A man considering if he has been issued a past removal order

Ask yourself if you have been in front of an immigration judge or an immigration officer in the past where you may have signed a document or provided with a document informing you that you are being deported or removed from the United States or that you are barred from re-entering the United States for a certain number of years. You will also want to try to remember if an immigration officer mentioned that you will be required to attend a court hearing or if at some point you received a hearing notice date in the past. A removal order can be an issues for as little as failing to attend a removal hearing which will result in what is called an In Absentia removal order.  We discuss the steps in a court removal proceeding here.

Regardless of what you can remember, the best option is to have an immigration attorney request your file through a Freedom of Information Act to the government agencies that are involved in the removal process including immigration courts, customs border patrol and immigration and customs enforcement to see if there is a removal order on file.

What if I do have a past removal order?

Avoid breaking any state or municipal laws because any contact with law enforcement increases your chances of being encountered by an immigration officer, especially in state and local jurisdictions where local law enforcement has a strong relationship with immigration enforcement agents.

Next, speak to an immigration attorney. Explain to the attorney the circumstances of the proceeding that led to the removal order including providing the attorney if possible the documentation including the removal order related to the removal case. The attorney will be able to analyze your case and determine if you have options to file a reopen your case based on an error by the government or even if you may qualify for a new immigration benefit status which may not have been previously available. We have discussed one such option when the noncitizen has been married to a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse here.

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