Orlando Immigration Lawyers

Orlando immigration lawyer John Gihon focuses on deportation defense in immigration court.  Many people believe that if a person is inside the United States without legal status (without papers), they will be automatically deported.  This simply is not true.  Most people, regardless of how they entered the United States, are entitled to appear before an Immigration Judge.  Many people may be entitled to relief, like cancellation of removal, withholding of removal, convention against torture, asylum, or waivers for criminal grounds of removal.  

Many people who are in deportation proceedings are entitled to a bond.  We can file bond memorandums with ICE agents and file motions for bond redetermination with an immigration judge to seek a bond in deportation proceedings.  

With the addition of a former ICE prosecutor, John Gihon, our firm is in a unique position to offer services from a former government immigration attorney and services from an immigration attorney who has defended immigrants for many years, Jeremy Lasnetski.  Both John Gihon and Jeremy Lasnetski have spent many years training other attorneys on immigration law and many hours inside the immigration courtroom.  

With offices in Jacksonville near the Baker Correctional Institution and Orlando near the Immigration Court, we can limit travel costs, which reduces your fees. 

One of the fastest growing areas of immigration law is the removal of immigrants from the United States because of prior criminal convictions.  Some have referred to this blending of criminal law and immigration as Crimmigration.  As a firm that focuses on both criminal law and immigration, we can help you with either or both your criminal and immigration needs.  

Immigration Court

Deportation proceedings start with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) issuing an NTA (Notice to Appear).  The Notice to Appear will list the factual allegations against the person and will list the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) that the government alleges.  ICE will either take the person into custody and detain them or will release the person.  ICE can release the person on an immigration bond, order of supervision or order of release on recognizance.   If ICE detains the person or sets  a high bond, the detainee can file a Motion for Bond Redetermination with the Immigration Court for the Immigration Judge to hear.  

The first hearing, other than a potential bond redetermination hearing, is called a Master Calendar Hearing.  The person in deportation proceedings is called the Respondent.  The government attorney is called the ICE attorney.  The judge is called the Immigration Judge. 

 At the Master Calendar Hearing, the Immigration Judge will ask the Respondent to enter a plea to the NTA.  The Respondent will either admit or deny each factual allegation and will admit or concede each allegation.  The Immigration Judge will determine whether the Respondent is removable and if so, if the Respondent is prima facie eligible for a form of relief.  If the Respondent seeks a form of relief, the Immigration Judge will schedule the case for an Individual (Merits) hearing.  An Individual Hearing is like a bench trial where the Respondent and the ICE Attorney will litigate whether the Respondent is eligible and should be granted a form of relief from deportation.  The Respondent should submit substantial evidence and call witnesses that address the elements that need to be established to obtain the form of relief.  

If the Immigration Judge grants a form of relief, the Respondent will not be ordered deported or will be ordered deported, but will not be physically deported.  If the Immigration Judge denies the form of relief, he or she will order the Respondent removed and enter a removal order.  ICE will then decide if, when and how to physically deport the Respondent. 

Either side can appeal the Immigration Judge's decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and then to a federal circuit court. 


If you are eligible for a form of relief, you may be able to avoid deportation if granted by the Immigration Judge.  

Cancellation of Removal (Lawful Permanent Residents)

Cancellation of Removal for Lawful Permanent Residents is an available form of relief for Respondents who can establish the following:
  • Lawfully admitted for permanent residence for 5 years, 
  • Continuous residence in the U.S. for 7 years
  • Not convicted of an Aggravated Felony
  • Warrants a favorable exercise of discretion
If the NTA (Notice to Appear) is filed or if a deportable offense is committed before the Respondent obtains 7 years of continuous residence, the Respondent may not be eligible for Cancellation of Removal.  

Cancellation of Removal (Non-Lawful Permanent Residents)

Cancellation of Removal for non-lawful permanent residents is an available form of relief for Respondents who can establish the following:
  • physically present in the United States for a continuous period of 10 years
  • have had "good moral character" for 10 years
  • have not been convicted of certain crimes
  • a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident spouse, parent or child would incur exceptional and extremely unusual hardship if Respondent was deported
  • warrants a favorable exercise of discretion
Many people are not able to get a greencard by applying for one, but when they are placed in removal proceedings and granted cancellation of removal, they will get a greencard and may later be eligible to become a U.S. citizen through naturalization.  

Asylum, Withholding of Removal, Convention Against Torture

For Asylum, Withholding of Removal and Convention Against Torture, you must establish that the Respondent's life or freedom will be threatened on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion, if removed to the home country. You are ineligible for Asylum if you have been convicted of an Aggravated Felony.  You are ineligible for Withholding of Removal if you have been convicted of a "particularly serious crime."  

212(h) Waivers

Many, but not all, criminal convictions will make a person deportable.  A typical deportation case will start with a person being arrested, prosecuted and sentenced on a criminal charge and then being placed in removal proceedings in Immigration Court based on that criminal conviction.  Even if you are deportable based on a criminal conviction, you may be eligible for a waiver of that criminal conviction by applying for a 212(h) waiver. 

A 212(h) waiver is discretionary, but if granted, will waive crimes involving moral turpitude, possession of marijuana under 30 grams, and multiple convictions.  It also waives the prostitution ground of inadmissibility.  It requires that the Respondent either 1) have a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident spouse, parent, son or daughter who would incur extreme hardship if the Respondent were deported, or 2) committed the offense 15 years prior to the 212(h) application, that the Respondent's admission to the U.S. is not contrary to national welfare, safety, or security of the U.S., and that the Respondent has been rehabilitated.  Certain Lawful Permanent Residents are not eligible for this waiver. 

Whether you have concerns about your immigration status because of a criminal investigation, charge, or conviction, or you are in removal proceedings for any reason whatsoever, call
904-642-3332 (Jacksonville) 
or 407-228-2019 (Orlando).  
We can help. 

Click on the links below to learn more about how we can help with these issues in your deportation case.  

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