The process of deportation for a criminal conviction typically begins when the Department of Homeland Security becomes aware that a foreign national is in jail, states AllLaw. Once DHS is aware that the person is incarcerated, it places him on an immigration hold and notifies the jail. When the person has completed his sentence, he is transferred to federal custody and served with a notice to appear in immigration court.
In most cases, foreign nationals who are on a DHS hold can post bond and return home pending their immigration hearings, explains AllLaw. However, detention at a federal facility is mandatory in some situations. These include a record of convictions for offenses such as drug trafficking, drug possession (other than a small amount of marijuana), or terrorist activities. A conviction for a violent crime, such as murder or rape, or a burglary or robbery conviction with a sentence of at least one year is grounds for mandatory detention as well.
The next step in the deportation process is a Master Calendar Hearing, during which the foreign national appears before an immigration judge and presents any defense to removal, such as an assertion that the crime he committed was not as serious as it appeared, AllLaw reports. If the individual has no defense, he can request an order of voluntary removal, which allows him to leave the country of his own accord, an outcome with less serious consequences than an order of removal by the court.
Next comes a Merits Hearing, during which the foreign national and DHS present their cases, including testimony and documents, to the court. If the court decides on deportation, the foreign national still has a right to appeal the case within 30 days, notes AllLaw.