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Cancellation of Removal

If you are a foreign-born person who has been living in the U.S. without legal status for a long time, and you have been placed into removal (deportation) proceedings, you may be eligible for what’s called “Non-LPR Cancellation of Removal” and a green card. The conditions for this form of relief from deportation are as follows:

  1. You have been living (“continuously physically present”) in the U.S. for at least ten years.
  2. Your being removed (“deported”) from the U.S. would cause “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” to your qualifying relative(s), who is (or are) U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (LPRs).
  3. You can show that you have “good moral character.”
  4. You have not been convicted of certain crimes or violated certain laws.

Meeting the Ten Years’ U.S. Residence Requirement

To qualify, you must be able to show that you have been continuously physically present for the ten years immediately before the date that you apply for cancellation. (There's an exception if you have completed two years of active service in the U.S. armed forces, in which case those two years alone are enough to meet the time requirements for non-LPR cancellation.)

The date of your last arrival into the U.S. starts the ten-year “clock.” The clock stops when you receive a Notice to Appear in immigration court, commit certain types of crimes, or have a single absence from the U.S. of more than 90 days or multiple absences adding up to more than 180 days.

Meeting the “Qualifying Relative” Requirement

To qualify, the undocumented immigrant must have a relative who is his or her “spouse, parent, or child” and “is a citizen of the U.S. or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence.”

Meeting the “Exceptional and Extremely Unusual Hardship” Requirement

To qualify for non-LPR cancellation, however, the hardship to the relative must be “exceptional and extremely unusual.” The distinction between “hardship” and “exceptional and extremely unusual” is critical.

To be approved for non-LPR cancellation, it is not enough to show that a U.S. citizen or LPR relative would suffer financially, emotionally, and physically. Instead, the applicant must prove that the qualifying relative would suffer to a degree that goes above and beyond the type of suffering that would normally be expected when a close relative is deported.

Meeting the “Good Moral Character” Requirement

An immigration judge will deny an application for non-LPR cancellation if the applicant does not have “good moral character”. The judge will decide that the applicant does not have good moral character if the law specifically says that the applicant cannot have good moral character (because, for example, he or she is a “habitual drunkard”) or if the judge decides that there are other “discretionary factors” indicating that the applicant isn't a “good person.”