Since the enactment of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRAIRA), "deportation" proceedings for lawfully admitted persons who have committed status violations, and "exclusion" proceedings for persons not lawfully admitted to the United States, have been replaced by "removal" proceedings; that is, both types of cases, procedurally speaking, are similar.

The substantive distinctions remain. Persons unlawfully present without having been lawfully admitted, are subject to grounds of inadmissibility. Persons lawfully admitted who have violated the terms of their lawful admission are subject to grounds of deportability. An "excludable" or "deportable" person is "removable."

Some persons alleged to be removable are, in fact, not removable, and can defend against removability on that basis. For example, the person may in fact be a U.S. Citizen; may be alleged to have committed a deportable criminal offense, when in fact the offense is not a deportable offense. Some "removable" persons are eligible for "relief from removability," in spite of being removable.

Relief from removability falls within the following general categories:

    Voluntary Departure;

    Cancellation of Removal;

    Adjustment of Status; and

    Asylum, and Related Statuses.

Eligibility for these forms of relief depends upon the unique facts of the case, and how those facts match up to the applicable laws.