A permanent resident in the United States is defined as a foreign national who has been granted the permission to reside in the United States for the rest of their lives. Even though their status is permanent, they are not citizens, and therefore their legal status remains under the auspices of the DHS. This means that if they commit a crime, it’s not simply a matter for the criminal courts, the DHS is automatically involved.
Often the DHS will request your removal – formerly known as deportation. In most cases the only recourse for permanent residents threatened with removal is Cancellation of Removal. Cancellation of Removal is simply a plea to the court that even though you have done something wrong, you think that positive factors should outweigh the negative ones.
To apply for cancellation of removal, you need to have residence status for at least 5 years, you need to have lived in the United States continuously for 7 years after being admitted (including visas), your removal proceedings are not the result of a felony, and that your removal is not the result of being deemed “inadmissible.” Additionally, the 7 year requirement is reckoned from your legal admission to the time of your infraction, not when the DHS starts proceedings. So, if you were busted for drugs after 6 years, you can still be removed even if the government does not start proceedings until after 7 years.
To come to a decision on your case, a judge will simply weight the positive factors against the negative factors. Positive factors include involvement in the community, family ties, volunteerism, church attendance, served in military. Negative factors include repeat offenses, likelihood of rehabilitation, sketchy employment history.
Cancellation of Removal is applied for with form EOIR-42A and the fee. If the court rules in your favor, your life goes on like normal. If it rules against you, you will need to speak to an attorney about your options.
*Note: the content on this site does not constitute legal advice. You should always discuss your case directly with an attorney.