Asylum – Those who have a well-founded fear of persecution if they return to their home country may apply for asylum if their fear is based on any of the following grounds:
Membership in a particular social group
If a person is granted asylum, after one year he may apply for permanent resident status.
Withholding of deportation – Similar to asylum, with the following two exceptions
The alien is not permitted to apply for permanent residence, and
USCIS is only prohibited from placing in deportation proceedings the alien to the country where he fears persecution, not to third countries which are willing to accept him.
Legalization and Registry – Once an illegal alien has been found qualified for legalization or “amnesty” by USCIS, the deportation hearing will typically be terminated since the alien will have attained the legal right to remain in the United States.
Registry is another means of attaining lawful permanent residence in the United States. It is available to aliens who have resided continuously in the U.S. since prior to January 1, 1972, who are persons of good moral character, who are not deportable on certain aggravated grounds, and who are not ineligible for citizenship. Registry may be applied for affirmatively, not only as a defense to deportation.
Voluntary Departure – If you are ineligible for all of the above forms of relief from deportation, you should still consider applying for voluntary departure. Departing voluntarily from the U.S. avoids both the stigma and the legal impediments to return to the U.S. imposed by deportation.
Voluntary departure is available to aliens who are not deportable on aggravated grounds, who have the means to pay for their departure from the United States, who agree to depart within a period of time granted by the Immigration Judge, and who can establish good moral character during the previous five-year period.
All forms of relief from deportation, except withholding of deportation, may be granted at the discretion of an Immigration Judge. Final orders of an Immigration Judge can be challenged with an immigration appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals, and from there to the appropriate U.S. Court of Appeals.