Often people will come in to see us and begin the conversation with a statement like "I've been in the U.S. for 10 years. How do I apply to get my green card?" Many people think that once they have been here for over 10 years they can automatically qualify for permanent residency. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. Most people have a misunderstanding about Cancellation of Removal. Particularly how it works and the risks involved.
Cancellation of Removal is an application for relief in Immigration Court if Immigration is seeking to have you removed and deported. If you are not a resident and you qualify under the law the Judge can not only "Cancel" your removal but later you can file to get your green card. But there's a catch. If you win you get to stay and eventually get a green card. If you lose you will be ordered removed and deported.
To qualify for Cancellation of Removal for Non-Lawful Permanent Residents, (commonly known as Non-LPR Cancellation) you must meet a very high burden.
That burden is set down as follows:
- You must have been physically present in the United States continuously for at least ten years;
- You must be able to show good moral character for ten years;
- You must not have been convicted of certain offenses [crimes listed in INA sections 212(a)(2), 237(a)(2), or 237(a)(3)];
- You must prove that your deportation would cause exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to your LPR or U.S. citizen spouse, child, or parent.
Many people who manage to meet the first 3 elements end up being denied because of the 4th element. Most Immigration Judges are quite strict in requiring truly exception and unusual hardship.
Additionally, you should keep in mind that Non-LPR cancellation of removal is unavailable to the following people.
- Someone who previously received cancellation of removal, suspension of deportation, or a 212(c) waiver
- Someone who has persecuted others, or are inadmissible or deportable under the anti-terrorism grounds.
- Crewmen who entered after June 30, 1964.
- Certain “J” visa exchange visitors.