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Deportation / Removal Defense

Cancellation of Removal

Cancellation of Removal is a legal solution to an impending deportation by the U.S government; it permits permanent residence for those who are being threatened with removal from the United States.

There are two types of cancellation of removal. The first is for lawful permanent residents and the second is for non-permanent residents or otherwise inadmissible aliens. Lawful permanent residents may be removed if they have certain criminal convictions that make them removable from the United States and thus fit for deportation. Those who have been convicted of an aggravated felony are not eligible for cancellation of removal.

Cancellation of removal for certain non-permanent residents has three criteria:

  • The applicant must have lived in the US continuously for at least 10 years. This illustrates why it is essential that all individuals keep meticulous records the entire time they reside in the US. Apartment leases, phone and electric bills, tax forms, etc.
  • The applicant must show that they are of good moral character. Naturally, you will want to avoid ever being arrested or convicted of a crime. You will also want to make sure that you file and pay your taxes on time every year. Positive factors that will help your case include how involved you are in your community. Are you a member of a church? Do you take an active role in the education of your children by meeting with their teachers and attending PTA meetings? Do you do charity work? These things will all be considered to prove good moral character.
  • The applicant must demonstrate they have a spouse, parent, or child who would suffer extreme and unusual hardship if you are deported. The spouse, child, or parent must be either citizens of the United States or lawful permanent residents of the United States. This is the hardest criterion to prove. Deportation always causes hardship, but the reality is that you must prove hardship above and beyond what a typical family would experience from a deportation. Note that the concern for hardship does not extend to the person being deported, but only to the people who will be left behind. If you have an elderly parent who needs regular care, and your deportation will cause them to become a ward of the state, this could be considered a ground for approving the cancellation of removal application. Furthermore, if you have a spouse or children with special needs or medical conditions, these may be factors that warrant approval of your application for cancellation of removal. Also note that simply having relatives who are citizens or lawful residents will not, as a rule, be grounds for granting a cancellation of removal application.

Some people are tempted to apply for cancellation of removal on their own in an attempt to “legitimize” their residence. For example, if you have a sick spouse who needs you to take care of him or her; you may think that you will be awarded residency based on this fact. However, cancellation of removal proceedings may only be initiated after you have been placed into removal proceedings.