When a foreign visitor to the United States has an expired visa or violates certain other provisions of U.S. law, that individual may face deportation, or forced removal, from the United States.

U.S. Immigration Courts have jurisdiction over deportation cases, and, if there are no provisions of law that allow the person to remain in the United States, these courts can issue an Order of Removal, by which the foreign individual is physically removed from the United States. An Order of Removal does not carry with it any other form of punishment.

An Order of Removal, however, does carry with it several consequences, among them the fact that the individual being deported will be inadmissible to the United States for ten years following the date he or she actually leaves the United States.

United States immigration law also provides for an alternative to an Order of Removal for people facing deportation: it is called Voluntary Departure. In effect, Voluntary Departure is the departure of a person facing deportation from the United States without an Order of Removal, and it may or may not have been preceded by a hearing before an immigration judge.

In a Voluntary Departure, the person facing deportation essentially concedes that the United States has the authority to issue an Order of Removal, and voluntarily agrees to depart the United States. When agreeing to a Voluntary Departure, the person facing deportation waives any other relief that may be available, and waives any appeal of their case. However, with a Voluntary Departure, the individual is not prohibited from seeking admission to the United States at any time in the future.

If an individual opts to seek a Voluntary Departure, they should realize that failure to leave within the time granted can result in consequences that are more severe than an individual who has received an Order of Removal. An individual who does not leave within the time frame set by a Voluntary Departure may be subject to fines, a ten year bar to readmission, and bars to other forms of relief that are sometimes available to individuals who are subject to an Order of Removal.

If the individual fails to depart within the given time frame, they are also subject to immediate deportation without any hearing—essentially, their Voluntary Departure becomes an Order of Removal, and, even if they depart voluntarily at that point, it is treated under U.S. immigration law the same as a deportation, and it carries with it the ten year bar to readmission.

When an individual is confronted with the possibility of deportation by the United States, they should consult a qualified immigration attorney to advise them, particularly if they do not wish to be deported. An immigration attorney can advise clients on whether there are viable alternatives to deportation.  There are many provisions of the law that may permit an individual in deportation proceedings to remain in the United States with lawful status including:

  • Contesting removeability for individuals facing removal or deportation based on allegations of fraud, smuggling, criminal conduct, abandonment of residency and other grounds 
  • Adjustment of status for individuals seeking residency based on an approved and current family-based petition, with waivers 
  • 212(c) waivers for certain long-term lawful permanent residents 
  • Cancellation of removal for green card holders who face removal or deportation based on criminal problems or other difficulties 
  • Cancellation of removal for certain non-lawful residents or long-term residents of the U.S. who have qualifying relatives and can establish the requisite hardship 
  • Asylum, withholding and Convention Against Torture relief for individuals who face persecution or torture upon return to their country of origin 
  • Removal of Conditions on Residence for individuals who obtained conditional residence based on marriage, with waivers 
  • NACARA Cancellation for certain Central Americans and Eastern Europeans 
  • TPS (temporary protected status) for nationals of certain designated countries 
  • All forms of VAWA relief, including VAWA cancellation, U and T visas, and adjustments based on self-petitions

Alternatively, an immigration attorney can advise a client when Voluntary Departure may be the best option, and what options the individual has of returning to the United States at a future date, if that is what he or she desires.



If you or someone you know is facing a deportation case the legal advocates of Bushell & Widdison can help. The attorneys of Bushell & Widdison have helped many clients with U.S. immigration matters, and can represent individuals facing deportation hearings, assist them in making informed choices about what course of action to take, and provide advice and assistance in pursuing available legal means of avoiding deportation.

Alternatively, Bushell & Widdison can advise clients of when Voluntary Departure may be their best option, assist them in complying with all necessary requirements, and advise them on how they may wish to proceed in the future.

The attorneys of Bushell & Widdison are fluent in Spanish and can communicate directly with clients in Spanish, as well as read and understand documents in Spanish, if necessary. Furthermore, because immigration issues are a matter of federal, rather than state law, Bushell & Widdison can handle cases for citizens living in any state, not just Utah.

Bushell & Widdison can give you peace of mind in knowing that all legal avenues of avoiding deportation will be fully considered and pursued. If you need assistance with a deportation case or need advice on what deportation may involve and how it may be avoided, contact Bushell & Widdison, Legal Advocates.