Monday, December 13, 2010

Country of Refuge: Cancellation of Removal for Non-LPRs

Recently we began a series on the strengths and benefits of our immigration law and policy. Today we'll briefly touch upon Cancellation of Removal for Non-Lawful Permanent Residents (Non-LPRs).  Cancellation of Removal for LPRs will be discussed in a different post.

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the Attorney General has discretion to grant various forms of relief from removal. One of these forms of relief is Cancellation of Removal for Non-LPRs under section 240A(b) of the INA. This section provides that a foreign national seeking cancellation of removal for non-permanent residents must establish four statutory requirements: 

  1. Physical presence in the United States for a continuous period of ten years; 
  2. Good good moral character during that period of time; 
  3. No convictions for certain criminal offenses; and 
  4. Exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to the applicant's spouse, parent, or child, who is a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident.
There are only three decisions published by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to guide adjudicators in deciding whether an applicant can demonstrate that a qualifying relative would suffer exceptional and extremely unusual hardship: Matter of Recinas, Matter of Andazola, and Matter of Monreal.  These cases will be discussed in detail in a different post under the heading of "hardships" and "waivers".

One can argue whether the standard to show eligibility under the Cancellation of Removal provisions is too high or whether more quotas should be made available, but to those that qualify - obtaining this benefit is literally a life-saver. I have been very fortunate in my years practicing immigration law to have assisted several clients to obtain their lawful permanent resident status through Cancellation of Removal.  Take for example the case of a foreign national in removal proceedings who has a seriously ill U.S. citizen child and has no other form of relief available. If this person is removed the child would not be able to obtain the medical care needed in their home country. Without the availability of Cancellation of Removal as a form of relief, many would be removed every year from the United States to face dire and extreme hardships.  Fortunately, thanks to our generous and humanitarian immigration provisions, qualifying applicants don't have to face such hardships.