Cancellation of Removal for Lawful Permanent Residents

A foreign national with U.S. lawful permanent residence, also known as “Green Card” status, will sometimes face the possibility of having to defend themselves in removal proceedings. Typically, removal proceedings are initiated against a lawful permanent resident because they committed a criminal act or some other type of deportable offense. Of course, just because the foreign national is placed in removal proceedings and faces the possibility of deportation, does not mean their fate is sealed and that they will be forced to leave the U.S. By calling an experienced immigration lawyer, such as Richard Hanus of the Law Offices of Richard Hanus, a green card holder will be able to get a grasp of the type of defenses that may be available, such as the relief of Cancellation of Removal for Lawful Permanent Residents pursuant to Section 240A(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

To be considered for Cancellation of Removal for Lawful Permanent Residents relief, a lawful permanent resident must be able to document:

  1. lawful permanent resident status for no less than 5 years,
  2. they have lived in the U.S. continuously for no less than 7 years after being lawfully admitted in any status and
  3. they have not been convicted of an “aggravated felony” – an offense with a very broad definition in the immigration law context, which includes a wide range of offenses including trafficking of drugs or firearms, sexual abuse of a minor, murder, and rape. For a complete list of such disqualifying “aggravated felony” offense see Section 101(a)(43) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

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In addition to satisfying the above requirements, an applicant for cancellation of removal relief must document they merit a favorable exercise of discretion, with the following positive and negative factors taken into account:

Positive:

  • Applicant’s ties to family in the U.S. .
  • Length of the applicant’s residence in the US
  • Hardship the applicant’s family would face if he/she is deported,
  • Applicant’s history of employment in the U.S.
  • Applicant’s participation in community service,
  • Applicant’s rehabilitation after criminal conviction,

Negative:

  • Circumstances surrounding criminal history, if any and
  • History of immigration violations or other unlawful behavior

Stop Time Rule

Among the most common obstacles to eligibility for Cancellation of Removal relief is the “Stop Time Rule”.  Specifically, the commission of certain criminal or other specified offenses during an applicant’s period of residence will put a stop to the applicant’s accumulation of residence in the context of satisfying the 7 years of continuous residence in any status requirement (#2 above).  Also putting a stop to the accumulation of residence in this context is the service of the Notice to Appear (NTA), the charging document that commences removal proceedings.   Importantly though, when it comes to the service of the NTA putting a halt to the accumulation of time toward this requirement, a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision has put into question exactly if, how and when service of the NTA prompts the stop time rule (see Pereira v. Sessions 138 S. Ct. 2105 (2018))

In sum, when it comes to analyzing a lawful permanent resident’s prospects for presenting their case for Cancellation of Removal relief, there are dozens of ways an applicant’s case may fail or fall short of eligibility requirements.  Creativity in finding avenues around possible shortcomings is key, and by retaining a seasoned deportation defense lawyer and contacting the Law Offices of Richard Hanus, a foreign national can ensure that a big picture and aggressive approach to advocacy will be taken on his/her behalf in defending such life changing proceedings.