In a previous article, we explained that suspension of deportation has been replaced by a stricter remedy called “cancellation of removal” for non-immigrants. We explained that the new cancellation of removal proceeding will require an individual to prove that they have been in the United States for 10 years continuously, that the person is of good moral character, and that their deportation will result in exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to the individual’s qualifying relatives.
The new cancellation of removal remedy encompasses not only the old suspension of deportation for non-immigrants but also the old 212(c) relief which was available to green card holders (immigrants) who had committed a crime. However, the recent anti-immigrant legislation has virtually eliminated the relief previously known as 212(c) relief.
The new law makes certain categories of people ineligible for cancellation of removal(both for immigrants and non-immigrants). These people will not be allowed to apply for cancellation of removal even if they could show that they would otherwise qualify. For example, an individual is statutorily ineligible for cancellation of removal if he admits committing a crime of drug trafficking, prostitution, a drug offense or crime of moral turpitude. In addition, an individual is ineligible for cancellation of removal if he has previously been ordered deported in absentia for his failure to appear at a deportation hearing.
The new law is very harsh on criminals and therefore protects victims of abusers. The new cancellation of removal for non-immigrants contains special protections to abuse victims. The new law will require you to prove the following:
1. Three years continuous physical presence in the United States,
2. That you are a victim of battery/extreme cruelty caused by your United States citizen/Legal Permanent Resident spouse or parent,
3. That you are a person of good moral character, and
4. That you or your child will suffer extreme hardship if you are deported.
Victims of abuse are not subject to the 10 year physical presence requirement and the heightened hardship standard of the cancellation of removal provisions. They can qualify for cancellation of removal with a softer standard.
Because of the drastic changes that have been made to the immigration laws recently, it is now more important than ever to consult with an attorney specialized in immigration law before attempting to apply for any relief with INS. For example, although the law says that individuals who have previously been ordered deported in their absence do not qualify for cancellation of removal until 10 years elapse, there are exceptions to this law. A qualified immigration attorney can assist you in seeing whether you meet the criteria for these exceptions.