Can I Work While In Removal Proceedings?

Removal proceedings often represent a stressful time for many foreign individuals. Given that the primary intent of this process is to determine whether an immigrant may be removed (deported) from the United States, it can feel like limbo to many aliens. The immigrant may likely have several questions about what he/she is allowed to do during removal proceedings, including whether he/she is legally permitted to work throughout this period. In fact, there are certain instances where a foreign individual can work while going through removal proceedings.

Situations Which Allow Immigrants To Work While In Removal Proceedings

There are four different types of scenarios in which an immigrant is permitted to work while he/she is in deportation proceedings. Here is a close look at each of these three situations:

Applicants For Asylum Or Withholding Of Removal

Immigrants who apply for asylum or withholding of removal are generally allowed to seek work authorization while an immigration court is in the process of deciding whether they may be deported. Asylum, which serves as a form of protection for foreigners who escaped persecution in their native country, provides aliens with legal status in the U.S. and lets them work. Immigrants who are granted asylum may also potentially apply for a Green Card later on. However, there is typically a waiting period between applying for asylum and receiving work authorization.

In order to be granted withholding of removal relief, immigrants are required to prove they will more likely than not be persecuted if they return to their homeland. This type of relief offers fewer benefits than asylum does because although foreign individuals who obtain withholding of removal are legally permitted to work in the U.S., they cannot apply for permanent resident status or travel outside the U.S.

Cancellation Of Removal Applicants

Immigrants may only apply for this type of relief during removal proceedings. Every year, there is a limit of 4,000 visas for Cancellation of Removal. Cancellation of Removal may potentially lead to legal permanent resident (LPR) status if an immigration judge decides to grant the alien a Green Card. In order to be eligible for Cancellation of Removal, a foreign individual must prove three things:

  • That he/she has lived in the U.S. continuously for 10 years or more
  • That he/she is an individual “of good moral character,” and
  • That his/her deportation from the U.S. will lead to “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” to a qualifying relative (parent, child, spouse, etc.) who is either an American citizen or a legal permanent resident.

The immigrant must also not have any criminal convictions. If you have a pending application for Cancellation of Removal, you may file an application for employment authorization.

Adjustment Of Status Applicants

This type of relief allows foreign individuals to change their status to become a legal permanent resident, per Section 245 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). While removal proceedings are being held, this can often be done once Form I-130, the Petition for Alien Relative, has been approved. An alien should always inform his/her attorney and the immigration judge if he/she has a pending Form I-130 and is in removal proceedings. Nonetheless, if you have a pending green card application filed with the court, you may proceed with filing an application for work authorization.

Speak To An Experienced Immigration Attorney

Reach out to the experienced immigration attorneys at Johnson & Masumi, PC in Vienna, Virginia for more information on whether you are authorized to work while in removal proceedings. We are dedicated to serving clients throughout Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC, and never hesitate to take on even the most complex cases. If you are an undocumented immigrant, removal proceedings may cause a large amount of stress, especially if you face persecution and other potential hardships in your home country.

Fortunately, the attorneys at Johnson & Masumi are highly experienced in removal and deportation defense. Regardless of your unique situation and the type of relief you are seeking, (asylum, adjustment of status, withholding of removal, etc.) we will work tirelessly to ensure that your rights are protected. Studies have shown that immigrants who seek legal representation have a higher probability of success for their cases. Call Johnson & Masumi today at (703) 688-8376 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.

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