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Wilner & O'Reilly, APLC - Immigration Attorneys In California And Utah
One Practice. One Focus. One Passion: Immigration Law.

What are the eligibility criteria for cancellation of removal?

Immigrants may qualify for cancellation of removal on the basis of good behavior, continuous residency and hardship associated with the deportation.

California is home to millions of immigrants, but sadly, each year thousands may face the prospect of removal. Nationally, over 69,000 immigrants residing within the U.S. were deported just in the 2015 fiscal year, according to the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Fortunately, some individuals in this position may qualify for cancellation of removal if they can meet the following criteria.

Continuous residency

Immigrants who are seeking cancellation of removal must have been continuously present in the U.S. for a prescribed amount of time. For non-permanent residents, the minimum residency requirement is 10 years. Lawful permanent residents must have resided in the country for over seven years and must have been considered lawful permanent residents for at least five years.

Lawful, moral behavior

Criminal convictions or other actions that call an immigrant's moral character into question may prevent him or her from qualifying for cancellation of removal. Lawful permanent residents who have been convicted of at least one aggravated felony lose eligibility for cancellation of removal. For non-permanent residents, the criteria are stricter and include the following considerations:

· Has the person demonstrated "good moral character"? A person's community involvement, family ties and law-abiding behavior may be taken into account to evaluate this.

· Has the person committed a criminal act, such as murder, that permanently bars her or him from establishing good moral character?

· Has the person committed other illegal acts, such as controlled substance violations or gambling offenses? Depending on the circumstances, such acts may also preclude a person from establishing good moral character.

It is important to note that a statement admitting any of these criminal activities can adversely affect a person's eligibility for cancellation of removal, even if the person has never been formally charged, convicted or indicted.

Severe hardship

People who are seeking cancellation of removal must also show that their removal or deportation would cause severe hardship to a dependent child, spouse or parent. The dependent in question must be a lawful permanent resident or citizen of the United States.

Special circumstances

Unique criteria apply to people who have suffered severe cruelty or battery from a spouse or parent who is a lawful permanent resident or citizen. These individuals may qualify for cancellation of removal if they have resided continuously in the U.S. for at least three years and if they can meet the requirements for demonstrating hardship and good moral character. The parent of a child who has suffered abuse under these same circumstances may also be eligible for cancellation of removal.

Get legal advice

In the face of deportation proceedings, assessing the most appropriate path forward - whether that involves applying for cancellation of removal or other measures - is often difficult for people who lack familiarity with immigration laws. These individuals may benefit from consulting with an attorney to determine the most suitable method of challenging the deportation proceedings.

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