It’s estimated that forty million people in the United States were born in different countries. While some of these individuals immigrated legally, others are undocumented immigrants. Either that or their visas have expired for one reason or another.  In other cases, a foreign national might immigrate legally, but engage in an act or crime that subjects them to deportation.

When this happens, the U.S. government will begin the deportation process. So, what is the deportation process? And should you get the help of an immigration lawyer to help you?

If you need to know the answer to these questions, you’re in the right place. This guide will walk you through what you can expect from the process. That way, you’re prepared for the road ahead.

What Triggers the Deportation Process?

If someone is a non-citizen in Chicago, then the United States government has the right to begin the deportation process at any time – also known as “removal proceedings”.  That being said, different things can trigger this process.

The first is if someone who is in the country illegally gets arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (or ICE). When this happens, you will need to locate where the individual is being detained. If they’re not deemed a flight risk, they will be released on bail or on your own recognizance.

From there, the non-citizen will usually await their initial court date.  However, just because you haven’t been arrested doesn’t mean that the deportation process hasn’t begun. Some other things that can trigger it include:

  • An asylum applicant is denied by the Asylum Office (part of U.S. Department of Homeland Security),
  • An individual holding a green card is convicted of a crime,
  • Visa expiration,
  • F-1 students dropping out of school but remaining in the country and
  • Fraud is revealed at some point during an application process

Any of these conditions can cause your immigration status to be challenged prompt the initiation of proceedings to have you deported. In some very specific cases, they may issue an expedited removal to speed up the process and you will have few, if any, options to defend against deportation. While it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be deported, it’s a very real threat you need to consider.

Notice to Appear

To begin the deportation process, ICE will serve you with a Notice to Appear. This is a charging document that will contain all of the immigration allegations being put against you.

It’s up to the prosecution to prove that these allegations are true with various forms of evidence. Most of the time, your Notice to Appear will include the date and time of your first hearing. However, if it doesn’t then you’ll be mailed these details in a separate document, although in this latter scenario, a noncitizen may have an even greater defense to he proceedings.


Your first hearing will also be known as the Master Calendar Hearing. During this process, the judge will assess the details of your case. They’ll then decide if the government has a strong enough case against you.

During this hearing, they’ll also decide if you might qualify for any realistic basis of relief or defense to proceedings. If a basis is discovered, they’ll schedule additional hearings. If no basis is discovered, they’ll likely order you deported or perhaps allow you to leave pursuant to an order of voluntary departure.

A lawyer is essential both for your Master Calendar Hearing and any subsequent ones as well. They can present all the necessary evidence that might help you defeat the case against you or maximize your chances for being granted relief before the court.  Sometimes the judge may suspend the removal process. Other times, as stated, they may issue an order of removal.


If the judge decides you must be deported, you can appeal the decision. This is ideal because it typically puts a pause on the deportation proceedings until the government concludes your case. Just make sure you file your appeal within the required period allowed under the law.

Deportation Defenses

The right type of deportation defense for your case will depend on your specific circumstances. Specifically, details like how you entered the country, why you immigrated, and your standing in the community.

There are numerous types of relief available to immigrants facing deportation, and some of the common ones include:

  • Family-based adjustment of status
  • Asylum status
  • Withholding of removal
  • Cancellation of removal
  • CAT protection (or Convention Against Torture)
  • Violence Against Women Act
  • Prosecutorial discretion (PD)

One of the more common defenses is Cancellation of Removal, where the right to stay in the U.S. will depend on proving, among other factors, you’ve lived in the United States for over ten years and that your removal/deportation would cause “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” to one of your qualifying relatives.

Your lawyer will help you decide which deportation defense is right for you. That way, you have the best possible chance of avoiding the process.

How Deportation Works

Ideally, with the right deportation defense and lawyer on your side, you’ll avoid the deportation process. However, if the judge rules against you, what happens next?

Basically, after the ruling, your subject to being flown back to your country of origin at ICE’s expense. Their transportation division might charter you a flight; you get your tickets on a commercial airline.  You might also be given permission to depart the U.S. on your own, but under “safeguards”.

If you fail to comply with your deportation order, you might be put on a high-risk charter with added levels of security. Unless you have a warrant for your arrest in your country of origin, you’ll be free to go once you arrive.

How to Find the Best Immigration Defense Lawyer

Often the difference between staying in the United States and getting deported is a good immigration lawyer in Chicago. So how do you find a quality one in Chicago?

A quick online search can be a good place to start. Check reviews and referrals to see how they’ve handled their past clients. Proper communication is vital with your lawyer.

So you want to make sure that they or a member of their staff can fluently speak your language. And remember that you shouldn’t just go with the cheapest option. If staying in the country is important to you, then you’ll need the most experience with U.S. immigration law that you can get.

If you cut corners on costs, you simply aren’t going to get that. Make sure to check out this guide to learn more about the qualities of a good immigration lawyer in Chicago.

Need Help Avoiding Deportation? Contact USA Visa Counsel

We hope this guide has helped you learn more about the deportation process in Chicago. Here at USA Visa Counsel, we know how stressful it can be when you get a notice to appear.

The number one way to relieve this stress is to get an experienced immigration attorney in your corner. Richard Hanus has been handling these types of cases for over thirty years.

During that time, he has strived to master the strategies that can help you stay in this country. So if you’re ready for the legal help you deserve, schedule a consultation with us today.