Deportation and Criminal Defense

Deportation is the legally mandated removal of an immigrant from the United States to their country of origin. One of the leading causes for deportation is a criminal offense. Certain misdemeanors can be grounds for removal, even if the immigrant hasn’t necessarily been convicted of the crime, or committed the offense as a juvenile. In 2020, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducted 185,884 removals. 92% of these immigrants had either criminal convictions or pending criminal charges. 13,232 of these removals occurred in the Los Angeles area alone. (1) However, the immigration system is structured to give immigrants the opportunity to make their case for remaining in the US. There are a variety of waivers that immigrants have the right to apply for if they are facing deportation proceedings. The challenge is knowing what options you have and acting in a strategic and timely fashion.

Having skilled and experienced legal representation is essential for successfully litigating and preventing deportation orders. A well-presented case can keep you from being sent back to a country with little to no resources. It can also keep you safely in the United States and allow you to begin your path to citizenship. If you’re facing deportation or criminal charges, the law offices of Nassim Arzani can help you preserve your life and opportunities in the United States. Call 951.683.0900 to schedule an appointment at her offices in Riverside. To make an appointment at her offices in Irvine, call 949.852.3500.

Deportation Defense

Immigration law is inherently complex and involves its own court systems and enforcement authorities. Unlike criminal courts, immigration courts do not provide free legal counsel. Your defense attorney should specialize in immigration law, specifically deportation defense. When it comes to deportation proceedings, there is so much to lose. A poorly handled case can cause significant damage to your chances of overturning deportation orders. It’s crucial to have the best immigration lawyer possible for every step of your case. If you’ve received a Notice to Appear (NTA), your immigration attorney can help you examine the notice, and determine the best strategy to avoid deportation.

If you are being detained by ICE, your deportation defense attorney’s first step will be to get you released on bond. 

A Certified Specialist in Immigration 

Nassim Arzani has been practicing immigration law for over 18 years and is a Certified Specialist in Immigration and Nationality law. This means that in addition to being licensed to practice law by the State Bar of California, the California Board of Legal Specialization has certified her as an expert in the field of immigration law. This qualification is earned by less than 3% of lawyers in the United States. This certification requires rigorous training, additional examinations, experience in the field, and recommendations by other attorneys and judges. (2) If you are facing deportation charges or any issue that threatens your immigration status, choosing a certified specialist will ensure that you have the best resources available. 

Simply put, Nassim Arzani has the experience, compassion, and credentials to provide you with a rigorous and expert deportation defense. 

Immigration Court

The United States Department of Justice handles immigration cases in a separate agency called the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). When you appear in immigration court, you’ll be at one of their locations, of which there are several in Southern California. 

There are two types of court dates in Immigration Court: one is called Master Calendar Hearing (MCH), and the other is the individual hearing, or merit hearing. The court date in the Notice to Appear (NTA) that the applicant first receives will be for an MCH date. Attending this court date is mandatory, and failing to appear can result in immediate deportation. On MCH dates, the judge deals with administrative issues, including scheduling your merit hearing, filing applications, pleadings to the immigration charges, and other issues. 

At your merit hearing, an immigration judge will listen to your lawyer’s deportation defense and to the argument of a lawyer who represents the government. Your deportation hearing is your defense’s chance to argue against your deportation orders, and prove the advantages of your remaining in the US. It’s also when your attorney will bring in witnesses to testify on your behalf, present supporting evidence, and let you tell your story to the judge. This judge will determine whether to move ahead with the removal or accept an application for relief from removal. (3)

If the immigration judge finds an immigrant removable and denies their application for relief from removal, the deportee and their counsel can appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals.

The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) is an administrative appellate body that is part of the U.S. Department of Justice and can overturn or confirm a judge’s decision. In some immigration situations, a BIA decision can be appealed to the appropriate U.S. Court of Appeals and from there to the US Supreme Court. (4) Having skilled representation for these complex appeal processes is crucial.

Release from Deportation

During your court hearing, your deportation defense attorney will be petitioning the judge for “relief from removal.” This halts your deportation. Depending on your circumstances, criminal history, and residency status, you may be eligible for the following:

  • Waivers of Inadmissibility and Removal
  • Cancellation of Removal for Permanent Residents
  • Cancellation of Removal for Non-Permanent Residents
  • Suspension of Deportation
  • Adjustment of Status to Permanent Residence
  • Asylum and Withholding of Removal
  • Legalization and Registry
  • Voluntary Departure (5)

Criminal Defense

Unfortunately, evidence of criminal conduct can critically damage immigration cases. Immigration law requires proof of moral character for those seeking to make a home in the US, and legal infringements can quash any potential for relief of removal. Those entangled in immigration cases involving criminal conduct may be surprised to discover that there is no statute of limitations in removal proceedings, as there are in the criminal justice system. This means that even offenses that occurred many years ago can be used against an individual in immigration court. 

To further complicate things, immigration courts classify many offenses as “aggravated felonies” although they are neither “aggravated” nor are they “felonies.” Others are classified as “crimes of moral turpitude,” a term that’s been hotly debated in legal circles due to its arbitrary nature. 

While a conviction may be expunged, this does not wipe your record clean for immigration purposes. Conduct that does not count as a conviction for criminal purposes may be still be considered as a conviction in an immigration court. The immigration consequences of criminal conduct, whether or not there is a conviction, can be deportation. Nassim Arzani has been able to halt deportation proceedings against her clients who have been convicted of a variety of criminal offenses, including aggravated felonies. She has also successfully terminated numerous proceedings against her clients by proving lack of evidence. By understanding the details of your criminal record, she may be able to carefully present the extenuating circumstances of your crime, proof of innocence or rehabilitation, and convince a judge to grant relief from removal.

Personal Consultation

Nassim Arzani is an immigrant herself, and after nearly two decades of practicing immigration law, she understands that no two cases have the same circumstances. If you or a loved one has received a Notice To Appear, or are being detained by ICE, a personal consultation is the first step in retaining critical legal counsel. Unlike other lawyers, she personally meets with each of her potential clients. She’ll study the intricacies of your situation, and determine the best strategy for a deportation defense that will keep you safely in the United States and allow you to continue your journey towards the American Dream. Read more about the victories her offices have proudly won in deportation cases, or follow her blog to learn more about the services her legal offices offer. 

Cost of Deportation and Criminal Defense in Riverside and Orange County

Every immigrant has a unique story, and deportation defenses must be created to address the client’s personal history. Immigration law is complex, and a deportation hearing complicated by criminal offenses can often be addressed in many different ways. Your subsequent hearings and if necessary, appeals will impact the length of your case.  Your consultation with Ms. Arzani will allow her to review all pertinent information and anticipate the course of your defense. After analyzing the complicated and unique details of your case, she will be able to provide you with a reasonable price to retain her uncompromising legal representation. She has offices conveniently located in Riverside, and Irvine to serve the Southland’s immigrant community. Contact her offices today to learn more about how the Nassim Arzani American Law Offices can help you.


  1. Department of Homeland Security. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement: Enforcement and Removal Operations FY 2020 Achievements. Published March 1, 2021. Accessed March 30, 2021.
  2. Sartwelle T. YOUR DOCTOR IS BOARD CERTIFIED. IS YOUR LAWYER? Lawyer Specialization and Certification: Observations on History, the Future, and the Standard of Care When Certified Lawyers are Sued. The Professional Lawyer. 2011;20(4).
  3. 8 USC §1229a. Removal proceedings

  4. United States Department of Justice. Board of Immigration Appeals. Published January 13, 2015. Accessed March 30, 2021.
  5. 8 USC 1227: Deportable aliens