Last month, we detailed the eligibility requirements for a non-Legal Permanent Resident immigrant in the US to qualify for a cancellation of removal. When you are facing deportation, a cancellation may be your best resource to prevent being removed from the country. But what about legal permanent residents (LPR), or Green Card holders, who are faced with deportation?
Green card holders are not immune from deportation despite their permanent immigration status. LPR immigrants who are threatened with deportation also have the ability to apply for a cancellation of removal, but the circumstances are a bit different than with non-LPR immigrants. Whereas a non-LPR immigrant can be deported simply due to his or her illicit presence in the US, LPRs generally must have been convicted of some sort of crime in order to face deportation. While a criminal conviction is the most common reason that green card holders could be placed in removal proceedings, there is a wealth of other actions or circumstances that could lead them facing deportation, a list of which can be seen here.
A cancellation of removal is a form of relief granted by an immigration judge in immigration court. LPRs must fulfill certain eligibility requirements in order to even apply for cancellation of removal. Firstly, he or she must have been a lawful permanent resident for at least five years. If you have had your green card for less than that you are automatically disqualified from the possibility of achieving a cancellation of removal. Furthermore, the applicant must have resided in the US for a continuous seven years up to the point he or she received a “Notice to Appear” in court for removal proceedings, or was convicted of certain crimes or committed certain offenses described in the Immigration and Nationality Act.
There are also strict restrictions for certain LPRs who have committed an aggravated felony or received a cancellation of removal at any time in the past. Finally, the applicant must prove he or she merits cancellation of removal, a decision that is left up to the discretion of the judge.
The burden of proof is placed on the applicant to establish that his or her eligibility to qualify for a cancellation of removal. He or she will have to apply and present the case in immigration court before the judge. Applicants over the age of 14 must also submit to a biometric scan (fingerprinting) so the court will have access to any criminal record.
You will need a significant amount of documentation to prove that you qualify under the first four eligibility criteria that we listed above, but the majority of the hearing will be dedicated to you proving to the judge that you merit a cancellation of removal. In order to do this, you will need to demonstrate things like family ties in the US, that your removal may place hardship on dependent family members, ties to the community, employment history, rehabilitation etc. You may also have family and friends testify on your behalf.
If the judge rules in your favor and you are granted a cancellation of removal, you will retain your green card. However, keep in mind that the cancellation of removal is a “one-time only” form of relief, so you will not be eligible if you face removal proceedings in the future.
Proving your eligibility for cancellation of removal and that you deserve to stay can be a very challenging process. If you are a legal permanent resident facing deportation, please contact Saleh & Associates to let us help you put forth the best possible defense against your removal.