If you are a non-citizen residing in the United States, whether you have legal permanent resident status or not, there is the potential that you could be placed in removal proceedings and deported from this country.
There are a number of different scenarios and actions that could lead to deportation, such as criminal activity, but there are ways to fight back and defend your right to remain and live in the US.
Chief amongst these remedies is the “Cancellation of Removal.” In this blog, we will provide answers to common questions about the cancellation of removal.
What exactly is a cancellation of removal?
Cancellation of removal is a legal remedy that may be granted under certain circumstances to prevent deportation from the US in removal proceedings against a non-US citizen. There are two different categories of cancellation: one for Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR) and one for Non-Permanent Residents (NPR) facing deportation.
How long has this option been available?
With the passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) in 1996—effective date of April 1, 1997—cancellation of removal replaced the previous form of relief known as “suspension of deportation.”
Who is eligible for LPR cancellation?
In order for a legal permanent resident to be eligible for a cancellation of removal, he or she must have held LPR status for no less than five years, resided in the US for no less than seven years (whether as a LPR or otherwise), and they must not have ever been convicted of an aggravated felony.
What are the NPR cancellation criteria?
The non-permanent resident—no matter their immigration status—must have lived in the US for at least ten years prior to the commencement of removal proceedings, demonstrate “good moral character,” not be disqualified due to criminal activity, and demonstrate that their removal would result in exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to a spouse, parent, or child who is a LPR or US citizen.
What constitutes “Good Moral Character?”
The US government defines “good moral character” as “character which measures up to the standards of average citizens of the community in which the applicant resides.” This means you must not have committed certain crimes and fulfilled your obligations under the law during your time here. This is a subjective criteria which can be proven in many ways, such as having a clean criminal record, showing proof that you have always paid your bills and taxes, and presenting witness testimony as to your upstanding character and positive qualities.
If I fulfill the criteria for cancellation, am I guaranteed to get it?
Unfortunately this is not the case. Even if you fulfill all criteria to qualify for either LPR or NPR cancellation of removal, the ultimate decision is left up to the discretion of an immigration judge who may still decide to that you do not deserve being granted cancellation of removal as a matter of discretion due to a variety of reasons.
What is an “aggravated felony?”
An aggravated felony, in the context of immigration law, is a crime that automatically disqualifies you from being granted a cancellation of removal (amongst other immigration benefits or forms of relief). There are numerous crimes that qualify as an aggravated felony, including murder, rape, drug trafficking, and failure to appear in court for a charged felony.
What happens if I am granted a cancellation of removal?
For a NPR, a grant of cancellation will end removal proceedings and the person will become automatically become a permanent resident of the US (a “green card” holder). A grant of cancellation for LPRs will end the removal proceedings and they will get to retain their green card. Keep in mind, however, that cancellation of removal is a one-time form of relief. If you are ever faced with deportation in the future, you will not be eligible to be granted a cancellation of removal.
If you or a loved one are facing deportation, it is vital that you seek out the services of a skilled immigration attorney who can help you obtain a cancellation of removal if you meet the eligibility criteria. Please call the law office of Saleh & Associates today and let us fight to defend your right to live in the US.