No matter how much money you earn, being in the United States illegally will always threaten your lifestyle here. It’s possible to become extremely successful even if you’re in the U.S. while undocumented, but it’s always in your best interests to obtain documentation or to work toward citizenship. If you don’t, there’s a risk that you could face deportation.

The deportation process isn’t the same for everyone. While it’s possible to deport undocumented immigrants, those who commit crimes, those who are a threat to public safety and anyone who violates a visa, not everyone will have a long removal process.

How does the deportation process work?

During the deportation process for those who violated visas, are a threat to public safety or committed crimes, the deportation process may start with being held in detention. A detention center holds those awaiting trial with an immigration judge.

If you are in the United States without documentation, then you may have to worry about an expedited removal instead.

An expedited removal is a process used to remove those who entered the United States without authority to do so. Upon attempting to enter the country, you could be caught, for example, and immediately deported. If this happens, you’ll face a ban that lasts at least five years. Sometimes, exceptions exist, like if a person is fleeing from dangers in his or her country as a refugee and had no choice but to leave without documents in place.

Typically, when you try to enter the USA through a border checkpoint, airport or shipping port, the Department of Homeland Security Officers have the final say. If they deport you, you’ll have no right to speak with an immigration judge. Likewise, if you enter the USA by sea or by land and are encountered within two years or 14 days of arrival respectively, you may have no right to speak with a judge. It’s vital that individuals in this position fight to speak with an attorney, because exceptions do exist.

For instance, if you attempt to enter the US based on a fear of returning to your country or are asking for asylum, then the law states that you may enter with further review of your request. An asylum officer discusses your case to determine if you have a reasonable fear of returning to your home.

In most cases, you have rights and should fight to stay in the country. Your attorney can help you understand what steps to take next.