If you or a loved one is facing removal from the United States, chances are this is among the most stressful moments of your life. You know the outcome you want: the cancellation of removal and the legally authorized permission to stay within the country.

But how do you start to prepare your deportation defense? What are your first steps?

In removal proceedings, not a moment can be wasted. A poorly constructed defense could unfortunately result in an individual’s ultimate removal. Here are a few of the first things you should get together for the start of your deportation defense case.

Gather Any Previous Deportation Defense and Immigration Documents

If you or your family member threatened with deportation has any previous experience in immigration courts, please gather that documentation together now. Any earlier decisions, waivers, or applications for immigration benefits could prove incredibly useful during this process.

Additionally, if the person has ever hired an attorney for immigration law issues, please contact that lawyer as soon as possible. If your attorney does not have experience in removal proceedings, contact the Oakland office of Landerholm Immigration, A.P.C. for a free case evaluation.

Know the A-Number

The A-Number, or Alien Registration Number (ARN), can be found on many immigration documents, including a green card, work permit, or visa. This number is typically nine digits long – if it is shorter, then zeroes must be added to the start of the number in field searches.

With your A-number in hand, you can get status updates on your removal defense case. If your loved one has been detained but you don’t know where they’re being held, the A-number is the most effective way to track them down in ICE’s Online Detainee Locator System.

Go to All Ordered Court Hearings

At the start of removal proceedings, ICE will typically serve a Notice To Appear (NTA) for a court hearing. It is vital that you appear at any scheduled court hearings. If you require time to hire a suitable deportation defense attorney, the court may grant that extra time. But if you do not appear at a scheduled court date, the court will decide your fate without you, and you will be deported.

The only way to potentially avoid removal is by making a persuasive case in court with compelling evidence, character witnesses, and the proper use of any legal tools useful to your situation. One’s hopes of building a winning defense could be improved under the guidance of a trial-tested deportation defense lawyer.

For a free evaluation, contact Landerholm Immigration, A.P.C. today.