You may have heard that if you’ve lived in the U.S. for ten years, 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.
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, but you have to be in removal proceedings to do so. This form of relief is known as cancellation of removal for non-permanent residents.
The standards for cancellation of removal are extraordinarily difficult to meet and this form of relief is actually available to only a limited category of cases. However, if you or your loved one is in removal proceedings, it may be his or her only option for attempting to gain lawful status.
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 which means you will have to convince the judge that you deserve it. It is not something you are automatically entitled to. Canecllation of removal cases require a lot of evidence and the team at Big River Trial Attorneys can help you prepare your application and supporting documents to give you the best shot at winning. Cancellation of removal also requires a hearing before an immigration judge and Attorney Messer is experienced in representing clients in removal proceedings.
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 has shown that his or her 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 substantially worse than the hardship normally expected from deportation to an underdeveloped country. Economic hardship alone wouldn’t qualify under this restrictive standard.
Questions About 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 (225) 963-9638 to set up a consultation in my Baton Rouge office to discuss your immigration options.