The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also known as ICE, recently issued a deportation order for rapper and British national, 21 Savage, on the grounds that he has been unlawfully present in the United States. If his bid to remain in the U.S. is unsuccessful, 21 Savage, whose real name is She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, could find himself facing a possible 10-year ban from the U.S.

Abraham-Joseph, who was born in the United Kingdom, relocated to Atlanta, Georgia as a child. Early reports suggested that the rapper entered in 2005 when he was 13 years old however his legal team reportedly contends that he was in fact 7 years old, and the entry record being relied upon by ICE demonstrates the last time he entered the U.S. upon returning from a trip to the UK.

In the last few years, he has rocketed to stardom as a rapper and gained international notoriety after performing with Drake in 2016. However, Abraham-Joseph is now in a precarious position that even his fame may not be able to overcome.

If an individual overstays his or her status, they will be considered as being unlawfully present in the United States, with a few exceptions such as the filing of a non-frivolous petition for change or adjustment of status. Any overstay can have a serious impact on an alien’s ability to remain in, or enter, the U.S. again in the future. Much depends on the amount of time that an alien has overstayed their status: between 6 months and 1 year may attract a 3 year bar and for more than 1 year, the bar is considerably longer, at 10 years. In addition to the statutory bars, any overstay, for as short as a few days may give rise to a finding of INA section 214(b), which represents a lack of ties to the alien’s home country/immigrant intent and can cause an individual to be found inadmissible.

However, there are some exceptions to the rules, along with mitigating factors that may sway an immigration judge. Abraham-Joseph, for example, has a complex background that may warrant both leniency and scrutiny. With heavy-hitter names like Jay-Z reportedly assisting in financing 21 Savage’s legal team, what considerations will likely come into play?

Legal Considerations

  • Abraham-Joseph entered the U.S. as a child.

Being that he entered as a minor, 21 Savage will benefit from the rule that does not allow children to accrue lawful presence while they are under age 18. Now 26 years old, even considering this rule promulgated for the benefit if minors, it can still be said that Abraham-Joseph has accrued a period of over 8 years unlawful presence.

  • Abraham-Joseph entered the U.S. with his mother and siblings in legal status.

If an individual entered the U.S. legally, as opposed to entering as an undocumented alien, that factor may also weigh in their favor, especially when considering the length of any bar imposed and whether it will be permanent.

  • According to Abraham-Joseph’s immigration attorney, since 2017 he has had an application for a U visa pending, which is reserved for victims of crimes.

Having a pending application/petition can be helpful in deportation matters, depending on the type of application or relief sought, and whether it is with or without merit. Any frivolous application and/or petition can count against an applicant.

  • Abraham-Joseph is the father of 3 young children who were born in the U.S., and whom he has been helping to support.

Being the primary source of support for young children can help a parent who is facing potential deportation, although it is notable that Abraham-Joseph’s children could not file a petition for green card until they attain the age of 21 years, and meet other requirements.

  • Abraham-Joseph is well-known for his philanthropic efforts, such as launching a charity aimed at teaching children about financial literacy, and hosting back to school drives.

Philanthropic efforts can aid in establishing moral character and mitigate offenses, although it is not a legal defense. However, some attorneys have successfully used their clients’ charitable actions in their defense, when considered in the round with other compelling factors.

  • Abraham-Joseph is reported to have a felony drug conviction from 2014 along with other less serious charges from years prior.

A felony drug offense is a ground of inadmissibility and a ground for deportation. The rapper’s criminal record may be his ultimate undoing.

  • A Deportation Order was recently issued for Abraham-Joseph.

While it is not impossible, it can be difficult to obtain a stay of deportation, especially when criminal offense convictions are involved, and there has been such a serious and lengthy overstay.


Political Considerations

Many have commented on the timing of the arrest, which came after Abraham-Joseph performed a new song on Jimmy Kimmel in which he criticized the Trump administration’s child separation policy. Having been arguably unlawfully present for over 8 years, why now? DLI echoes the skepticism of the rapper’s supporters as the president continues to take umbrage with, and action against, those who disagree with his policies, in a scary nod to autocratic regimes past and present.


At Davies Legal Immigration, we offer advice and representation in connection with issues of unlawful presence, deportation and all other aspects of U.S immigration, from both our London and Atlanta offices. We offer a fully flexible service, timely responses to your correspondence and innovative immigration solutions, at a competitive, transparent fixed fee. Give us a call to receive a free price quotation and preliminary exploration of the merits of your case.


Published: 10th February 2019