This page will provide an extensive discussion of Cancellation of Removal relief. The first part talks about Cancellation of Removal for Lawful Permanent Residents. The second part talk about Cancellation of Removal for Non Lawful Permanent Residents.
Cancellation of Removal for Lawful Permanent Residents
Cancellation of removal for lawful permanent residents (LPRs / Also known as Green Card holders) apply particularly to long-time LPRs who become deportable due to prior convictions. If you are eligible for Cancellation of Removal and the court grants your application, then you will not be deported from the United States and get your green card back.
Under INA §240A(a), a lawful permanent resident (LPR) is eligible for cancellation of removal relief if he or she:
(1) Has been an LPR for at least five years;
(2) Has resided in the United States continuously for seven years after having been admitted in any status;
(3) Has not been convicted of an aggravated felony;
(4) and Merits a favorable exercise of discretion
In a Cancellation of Removal for LPR case, one does not need a showing of hardship to qualifying U.S. citizens or LPR relatives. However, those who have aggravated felony convictions and those excluded by the “stop time” rule are not eligible for this relief.
The definition of aggravated felony is very broad and now encompasses more than 20 categories of offenses, including:
- A crime of violence that has a sentence of imprisonment of one year or more, regardless of the time actually served;
- A theft offense (including shoplifting) with a sentence of imprisonment of one year or more, regardless of the time served;
- A smuggling offense (though there is an exception for a first offense for aiding one’s spouse, parent or child);
- Money laundering of more than $10,000;
- An offense involving fraud or deceit in which the loss or attempted loss to the victim or victims exceeds $10,000;
- A gambling or racketeering offense with a sentence of one year or more;
- Tax evasion where revenue lost to the government is in excess of $10,000; and
- Bribery, counterfeiting, forgery or trafficking in vehicles with a sentence of imprisonment of one year or more.
Even if you are eligible for this relief, you still must convince the Immigration Judge that you deserve a grant of cancellation through an exercise of the judge’s discretion. As mentioned above, hardship is not a requirement for this relief; nonetheless, it is still a good factor to delve into in seeking favorable discretion from the judge.
Matter of C-V-T, 22 I&N Dec. 7 (BIA 1998), is a seminal BIA decision that deals with Cancelllation of Removal for lawful permanent residents. In C-V-T, the BIA held that the Immigration Judge must balance the positive factors and negative factors in a Cancellation of Removal case. If the numerous favorable factors in the LPR’s case outweigh the negative factors, the Immigration Judge should grant Cancellation of Removal relief. According to the BIA, the factors to consider are the following:
Positive Factors to Consider
- Family ties in the United States;
- Duration of LPR admission (If the LPR was admitted in the U.S. at the early age, it is better);
- Employment history;
- Service in the U.S. armed forces;
- Hardship to family in the United States and to the LPR if deported;
- Value and service to the community;
- Rehabilitation; and
- Other evidence of good moral character.
Adverse Factors to Consider
- Nature and circumstances of the ground of removal;
- Additional violations of the immigration laws;
- Nature, recency and seriousness of the criminal record; and
- Other evidence of bad moral character.
The following documents are examples of should be provided as evidence in a Cancellation of Removal case.
- Proof of Your LPR (Lawful Permanent Resident) Status for at least the last 5 Years: copy of I-94 (white paper slip that may be attached to your passport) or of entry stamped into your passport; copy of your Permanent Resident Card (“Green Card”). Please copy the front and back of the card
- Proof of Continuous Presence in the U.S. for the last 7 years: rent receipts, school records, certificates of achievement, or utility bills that can demonstrate your continuous presence in the U.S. for the last 7 years; medical or dental records, social security records, bank statements, Identifications issued during that time, children’s school records, income tax records, or payroll records; any other proof such as a notarized statement from family, friend or co-worker that shows your continuous presence for last 7 years.
- Proof of Your Work and Education History in the U.S.: your income tax records; pay stubs; social security record; letter showing that you have a job when you get out of detention (if applicable); proof of your English language training, GED, college transcript, etc.; proof of vocational training (i.e., certificates of achievement, commercial driver’s license, machine operator, etc.)
- Documents to Prove Your Ties to the U.S.: copies of your children’s school records, including letters from teachers about your children’s classroom performance; copies of medical records if any (it is very important to document any medical condition that you or your family members may have), copies of your children’s birth certificates; copies of your marriage certificate; proof of any debt that you have in the U.S. (mortgage, car loans, etc.); proof of insurance (car, medical, etc.); proof of Property that you own in the U.S. (deed, certificate of title, etc.)
- Letters for the Judge Showing Hardship to Yourself and Others If You are Deported: letters of support from as many family members as possible; letters of support from your friends; letters from people who know you well (neighbors, co-workers, landlord); letters showing your participation in your community. For example, it could be a letter from your neighbor that describes your help that you have given to neighbors, such as yard works, rides, etc.; letters or documents showing financial contributions to your family. For example: Proof of paying rent, child support, etc.; letters from your current and former employers; letters from religious organizations you belong to; photos of your family (birthday parties, holidays, pets, babies, etc.)
- Proof of Rehabilitation Efforts (if applicable): certificates from rehabilitation programs (AA, NA, Life Skills, etc.); letter to my probation / parole officer explaining that you are in ICE custody
Cancellation of Removal for Non Lawful Permanent Residents
A lot of people have been in the United States illegally for many years. Some of you may have crossed the border many years ago, and are now married to a US Citizens. Some of you may even have kids or who were born in this country. Most are stuck, as there is no relief available. No work permit, no legal status, nothing.
Yet some of you may have an overwhelming type of hardship either to your US Citizen spouse, child or parent, in which your deportation make it hard for them to live. Those of you who fall under this category may be eligible for cancellation of removal under INA § 240A(b).
In order to be eligible for this relief, a noncitizen respondent would have to show the following:
- He or she has been physically present in the US for a continuous period of not less than ten years;
- Has been a person of good moral character during such period;
- Has not been convicted of a criminal offense listed in 212(a)(2) or 237(a)(3) or failure to register, document fraud or falsely claiming citizenship.
- That removal would result in exception and extremely unusual hardship to the noncitizen’s spouse, parent, or child, who is a US citizen or lawful permanent resident.
Exceptional and Extremely Unusual Hardship
The most important and the most difficult requirement for this relief is establishing exceptional and extremely unusual hardship. This hardship requirement is one of the toughest standards to establish in all immigration law provisions. Moreover, this standard may not be satisfied by showing hardship to the foreign national, but rather the applicant must establish that the hardship will be suffered by a US Citizen (USC) or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) spouse, parent or child.
The factors identified by the BIA to determine exceptional and extreme unusual hardship include the ages, health, and circumstances of qualifying LPR and USC relatives. For example, according to the BIA, an applicant who has elderly parents in this country, parents who are dependent solely on the applicant for support, might have a strong case. Another strong case might have a qualifying child with very serious health issues, or compelling special needs in school. A lower standard of living or adverse country conditions in the country of return are factors to consider, but generally will be insufficient themselves to support a finding of exceptional and extremely unusual hardship. As with extreme hardship, all hardship factors should be considered in the aggregate when assessing exceptional extremely unusual hardship. The BIA emphasized that, although guidance as to the term’s meaning can be provided, each case must be assessed and decided on its own facts.
Proof of Continuous Presence for 10 years
What we do for this element of Cancellation is breakdown the evidence to the particular year they coincide with, and we make sure you have at least a single document per year to establish continuous presence. If you want to show continuous physical presence from 2001 to 2012 for example, it would be good to have documents showing your name and 2001, 2002, 2003 etc. We then list them all chronologically in our exhibits list.
Below are examples of some documents that may submitted in support of the continuous physical presence requirement.
- Tax returns / tax transcripts
- Social security statements
- Rent receipts
- School transcripts
- Marriage certificate
- Divorce decrees
- Birth certificate of children
- Medical records
- Utility bills
- Driver’s licenses
- Passport biographic pages with a US city in the place of issuance
- Utility bills
- Dental records
- Payroll records
- Employment letters
- Affidavits from friends and family
- Affidavits from neighbors
- Affidavits from bosses and co-workers
Good Moral Character
Below are some notes pertaining to evidence you can present for the good moral character requirement of Cancellation of Removal.
- Letters from your family members, co-workers, neighbors, work supervisors, teachers, religious leaders, or any people who benefit from your activities in your community to show that you have been a person of good moral character during the last 10 years.
- Proof of membership in churches and other community groups
- There is no limit as to the amount of information you can submit to prove your good moral character.
- The letters should be dated, notarized and signed. Also, letters should include the following information: how you are related to the person writing the letter, the name of the person who writes the letter on behalf of you, how long they have known you, why they have a good opinion of you (they should try to give examples of your good behavior), they should also talk about your criminal history if they are familiar with it and say how you have changed and why they think that you will not make the same mistakes again
Below are some notes on the “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” standard for Cancellation of Removal cases.
- Length of time your family has lived in the U.S.: bills or letters showing your address, school or work records, birth Certificates of your children (if any), marriage Certificates (if any)
- Family’s dependence on you for financial and emotional support: proof of child support payments, letters from your family members, bills for your family’s expenses (medical cares, social security payments, etc), proof of insurance for family members
- If any of your family members are currently sick (physically or mentally) or have been sick in the past, it is important for the Judge to learn about it. If someone in your family is or has been sick, it is very helpful to submit evidence of their medical history such as a letter from a doctor, copies of medical records and prescriptions, letter from a psychologist, social worker or psychiatrist, copies of treatment records etc.
- You can also show extreme hardship by demonstrating your inability to support your family in your home country. You can show the living and political conditions in your home country: news articles on living conditions in your home country, news articles on political or social conditions in your home country if it is dangerous or unstable
- Family members’ close ties to their community in the U.S.: evidence that they are attending school (letter from a teacher, principal, school attendance certificates), evidence that they have friends and other close ties in the U.S. (pictures of your children with friends, cousins, etc. and pictures of your children with their teammates if they belong to any teams), evidence of their school performance (their grades, proof of enrollment in honors classes, proof of special need classes because of learning disabilities, etc.), evidence of extra-curricular activities, evidence that they only speak English
- Anticipated hardship children would suffer if your family would go back to your home country: proof that your children do not speak the language of your home country, evidence that they are enrolled in special programs in school, written statements from your children giving examples of how their lives would change and what they would miss if they were to go with you to your home country.
Consultations with our firm are free. So if you have any questions at all with Cancellation of Removal applications, feel free to contact us by phone, email, or even visit our firm.
Should you eventually wish to retain our firm, we are experienced in preparing, filing, and representing clients in Cancellation of Removal cases with the immigration court.
To us the most important part of a Cancellation of Removal application is the extensiveness of the supporting documents. The application is not just about the forms. As you’ve hopefully read in our synopsis of Cancellation of Removal applications, there are many issues that should be addressed for a completely thorough Cancellation of Removal claim. We mill make sure those issues are addressed – stop-time rule, criminal convictions, “positive factors” etc.
We will make sure that you provide as much evidence as possible in your application, by giving you suggestions as the case proceeds. We will go over an extensive Individual Hearing preparation until all issues are addressed and you are as well-prepared as possible.
If there are any details that may be relevant to your claim, we will point those out to you and have you remember and add those. If there are any specific documents that we believe would strengthen your case, we will also point that out to you.
The point is that the pre-filing stage to us is as important as the Individual Hearing itself. We won’t simply have you fill out and do the application, and then come in at the hearing. We will work with you throughout the process, to make sure your case is strong. You can do good in Court, but if that initial application is full of inconsistencies and inaccurate details, the Courts could easily deny a case based on insufficient evidence. That’s why we believe utmost care, thoroughness, and attention to detail are important in the preparation of a Cancellation of Removal application.
Our firm has had clients all over the United States, and we have accompanied them in their hearings as well. Our firm will also prepare you for the hearing, in many cases multiple times. Feel free to contact our office if you want to inquire about Cancellation of Removal Cases.
If you have any questions, please fill out the free consultation form below, and we will respond as soon as possible privately.