You sacrificed so much money, time, & even accomplishments, to come to America, the land of the free, the land of the brave, and the land of opportunities—only to find yourself in removal proceedings? Like many who find themselves in removal proceedings, you wonder whether all your sacrifices in coming to America were in vain! Would it have been better to face the tough and sometimes unbearable circumstances in your home country rather than to begin from scratch in a new country which is now about to deport you? These are just some of the questions many immigrants ask themselves during deportation proceedings.
The U.S. immigration laws provide quite a bit of relief to the immigrant even in deportation proceedings. Unfortunately, many immigrants are unaware of these available options because they represent themselves or hire an attorney almost too late before the deportation hearing (i.e. the day before the hearing). The old scripture adage says it best, “my people perish for lack of knowledge.” This blog highlights some of the options that an immigrant may have depending on the circumstances of course.
Cancellation of Removal
There are quite a number of options available to the immigrant in deportation proceedings including unlawful presence waivers, inadmissibility waivers, withholding of removal, etc.
However, I want to focus on one neat option called Cancellation of Removal.
So What is Cancellation of Removal?
Congress created Cancellation of Removal in 1996. Cancellation of Removal is a remedy available to certain people who an immigration judge finds to be subject to deportation. So, it allows an immigration judge to decide not to deport someone who is otherwise deportable, provided certain requirements are met.
There are three types of Cancellation of Removal:
- Legal Permanent Resident Cancellation of Removal
This type of Cancellation of Removal is available to permanent residents (those with a green card) who are deportable usually because of some kind of criminal conviction.
In order to qualify, the permanent resident must:
- Be a permanent resident for at least five years
- Have good moral character during those five years
- Have at least 7 years of continuous presence after being admitted in any lawful status (i.e. you don’t qualify if you entered without inspection)
- Show evidence of rehabilitation or at least remorse
The next two types of Cancellation of Removal are ONLY available to immigrants who are not permanents residents at the time of deportation proceedings
- Ten Year Cancellation of Removal
Remember that this type of Cancellation of Removal is available only to those immigrants who are not permanent residents.
To qualify for the Ten Year Cancellation of Removal:
- Immigrant must have at least ten years of continuous residence in the U.S.
- Good moral character—basically someone without significant misdemeanor convictions or felony convictions
- Exceptional & unusual hardship to the immigrant’s parent, spouse, or child who is a United States citizen or a permanent resident.
- Exceptional & unusual hardship requires some special circumstances—such as a US citizen child with a major illness who would be forced to accompany the parent to the home child and would lack adequate medical care there.
- Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Cancellation of Removal
This type of Cancellation of Removal, is available to battered spouse or children of US citizen/permanent resident abusers. Congress created it in 2000 allowing the victim to petition for himself/herself instead of depending on the abuser to file on his/her behalf. Like the former, it is available to those immigrants who are not permanent residents.
To qualify for VAWA at removal proceedings, the victim must show:
- Battery /extreme cruelty by the requisite type of abuser
- At least 3 years of continuous presence in the U.S.
- Good moral character during those three years
- Extreme hardship to the individual, a parent, or child
Limitations of Cancellation of Removal
Cancellation of Removal is available to an immigrant ONLY once in their lifetime. The two types of non-legal permanent resident Cancellation of Removal have an annual limit of 4,000. Meaning only 4,000 immigrants can get these types of cancellation of removal per year. As you can imagine, 4,000 is a fairly small amount compared to the many immigrants in removal proceedings, and therefore, these numbers fill up fast. Therefore it is in your best interest to contact an attorney as soon as you receive a notice to appear in removal proceedings in order to discuss and know all your options.
What Does All this Mean to You?
If you are an undocumented immigrant or your status has expired it is in your best interest to consult an attorney as soon as you can in order to know all your options, way before you ever find yourself in removal proceedings. Why? Because there are quite a couple of other options you may qualify for even before removal proceedings.
Until next time!