Introduction to Suspension of Deportation: Eligibility and Process

In the intricate world of immigration law, one option available to certain individuals facing deportation is the suspension of deportation. This relief is significant as it allows eligible individuals to halt their deportation proceedings and potentially obtain legal status in the United States. In this article, we will delve into the eligibility criteria, the application process, and the key aspects of suspension of deportation. As an experienced immigration and criminal defense attorney in New York and New Jersey, I will provide insights into this critical area of immigration law.

I. What Is Suspension of Deportation?

A. Definition

Suspension of deportation is a legal remedy available to individuals who are in deportation or removal proceedings. It offers them the opportunity to avoid deportation and gain legal permanent residence in the United States.

B. Historical Context

This relief was replaced by a similar remedy known as “cancellation of removal” under the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA). However, certain individuals who were in the process of applying for suspension of deportation at that time could still benefit from the old law.

II. Eligibility for Suspension of Deportation

A. Continuous Physical Presence

To be eligible for suspension of deportation, an individual must demonstrate that they have been continuously physically present in the United States for at least seven years before being placed in deportation proceedings.

B. Good Moral Character

Applicants must establish good moral character during the required seven-year period. Any criminal convictions or other negative factors may adversely affect eligibility.

C. Extreme Hardship

Perhaps the most critical requirement is proving “extreme hardship” to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse, parent, or child if the individual is removed from the United States.

III. Application Process

A. Filing Form EOIR-40

Eligible individuals must file Form EOIR-40, Application for Suspension of Deportation, with the immigration court. It is essential to provide all necessary supporting documents and evidence to establish eligibility.

B. Immigration Court Proceedings

The immigration court will schedule a hearing where the applicant can present their case and evidence. The immigration judge will then determine whether the individual meets the eligibility criteria and merits a grant of suspension of deportation.

IV. Other Forms of Relief

A. Cancellation of Removal

For individuals who do not qualify for suspension of deportation, cancellation of removal under current immigration law may be an alternative option. The eligibility criteria for cancellation of removal differ from those for suspension of deportation.

B. Asylum and Withholding of Removal

In certain cases, seeking asylum or withholding of removal based on fear of persecution in the home country may provide relief from deportation.

One aspect not discussed in the article is the importance of gathering strong supporting evidence to establish eligibility for suspension of deportation. The burden of proof falls on the applicant, and it is crucial to provide sufficient documentation and testimonies to demonstrate continuous physical presence, good moral character, and extreme hardship. This evidence may include financial records, medical reports, affidavits from family members, and other relevant documents. The quality and persuasiveness of the evidence presented can significantly impact the success of the application. Therefore, it is essential for individuals seeking suspension of deportation to work closely with their immigration attorney to compile a comprehensive and compelling case.

V. Conclusion

Understanding the suspension of deportation process is crucial for individuals facing removal proceedings in the United States. It offers a potential lifeline to those who meet the stringent eligibility criteria. While this article provides a broad overview, seeking the guidance of an experienced immigration attorney is highly recommended to navigate the complex legal terrain.

As someone with firsthand experience as an immigration and criminal defense attorney in New York and New Jersey, I have witnessed the impact that suspension of deportation can have on the lives of individuals and families. It is a legal remedy that, when pursued correctly, can lead to a fresh start and the opportunity to build a stable life in the United States.

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