Cancellation of Removal for Non-Permanent Residents

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Cancellation of Removal for Non-Permanent Resident

I’ve heard that if you’ve lived in the U.S. for ten years and can show that you have no criminal convictions and are a good person who has been working and paying taxes, you can apply for a green card. Is this true? How can I apply?

The good news is that you can apply for a green card after being in the U.S. for ten years even if you have no immigration status or have entered the U.S. without inspection. This form of relief is known as cancellation of removal for non-permanent residents.

But the reality is that the standards for cancellation of removal are so extraordinarily difficult to meet that this form of relief is actually available to only a limited category of cases.

Cancellation of Removal – Background

Cancellation of removal is a form of relief from deportation or removal. This means that you can only apply for cancellation of removal if you have an open case in deportation or removal proceedings in Immigration Court before an Immigration Judge. If you don’t have a date to appear in Immigration Court, you can’t apply for cancellation of removal.

If you have already appeared in Immigration Court and now your case is closed because you have a final order of removal or deportation from an Immigration Judge, you can’t apply for cancellation of removal unless you could convince the Immigration Court to grant a motion to reopen your case.

Cancellation of removal is a discretionary form of relief. So even if you can show that you meet all eligibility requirements, the Immigration Judge could still decide that you don’t deserve to be approved and could deny your case.

Cancellation of Removal – Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for cancellation of removal, you must show that:

  • Ten Years in the U.S. You have been continuously physically present in the United States for at least ten years. The 10-year period is measured from the date of entry until the date that the Department of Homeland Security issues a Notice to Appear in Immigration Court. A single absence of 90 days or a several absences totaling 180 days will interrupt the continuous physical present necessary for cancellation of removal;
  • Good Moral Character. You have been a person of good moral character during that 10 year period of time;
  • No convictions that make you inadmissible or deportable. You haven’t been convicted of certain criminal offenses that would render you inadmissible or deportable; and
  • “Exceptional and extremely unusual hardship.” Your possible deportation would cause “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” to your lawful permanent resident or U.S. citizen spouse, child or parent.

What is “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship”?

Plenty of cancellation of removal cases have been denied on the grounds that the applicant have shown that their deportation would cause hardship but that the hardship doesn’t meet the standard of “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship.”

To meet this standard, you must show that your deportation would cause your child, spouse or parent to suffer a hardship, which would be substantially worse than the hardship normally expected from deportation to an underdeveloped country. Mere economic hardship wouldn’t qualify under this restrictive standard.

Bottom line on Cancellation of Removal

If you have an upcoming hearing in Immigration Court before an Immigration Judge and you don’t have a green card / permanent resident status, cancellation of removal might protect your from deportation. If you think you might have a case for cancellation of removal or have questions about this form of relief, please call or email me to set up a consultation in my Boston offices to discuss your immigration options.