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Cancellation of Removal
The law protects immigrants whose immediate family members have special needs or serious medical issues from deportation. While defending their case, they may be entitled to work authorization. If their case is approved, they are given lawful permanent resident status. Our firm has represented countless immigrants in applications for cancellation of removal before the San Francisco Immigration Court, obtaining immigration protection that promotes the welfare of their families.
Cancellation of removal is a defense against deportation available to long-term undocumented immigrants who can show a family member with lawful status would suffer greatly if he or she is deported. While the application is pending, an applicant is entitled to work authorization, a social security number, and a driver’s license. If the immigrant wins, the deportation is cancelled and the immigrant becomes a lawful permanent resident.
To qualify, an immigrant must have been physically present in the United States for 10 years prior to being placed in a removal (deportation) proceeding. During that time, the immigrant must not have left the United States for more than 90 days on any one trip or for more than 180 days in total. The immigrant must also show he or she has been a person of “good moral character” during a period of ten years and must not have certain types of criminal convictions. He or she must have a parent, spouse, or child (unmarried and less than 21 years of age) who is a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident. Finally, he or she must demonstrate that his or her relative would suffer hardship that is “exceptional and extremely unusual.”
Because the hardship standard is very high, simply living in the United States for ten years and having U.S. born children is not enough to win. The Board of Immigration Appeals, the agency charged with interpreting our immigration laws, has found that Congress intended the law to be applied in a restrictive way. It found that a strong case might involve an immigrant’s child who has a very serious health issue or compelling special needs in school. On the other hand, it later clarified that cases may be approved where the circumstances are less grave but still would create a very high level of hardship. For example, it approved the case of a single woman from Mexico with six children who had absolutely no familial support in Mexico because her siblings and parents resided in the U.S. lawfully. In that case, the Board found that the severe economic and familial hardship on the children met the “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” standard.
Immigrants whose children have been qualified for special education upon the basis of a specific learning disability, speech and language impairment, or others identified in an individualized education plan are very often strong candidates for cancellation of removal and should speak to an attorney about their rights. Immigrants whose children have serious medical needs that could not be treated in the immigrant’s country of nationality may also be strong candidates. Each case is unique. Sometimes a case is granted based on the totality of circumstances, such as a number of smaller hardships that when viewed cumulatively reaches an exceptional level. A consultation with an attorney can inform immigrants about the likelihood they would prevail in an application.
The Law Office of Robert L. Lewis has represented hundreds of immigrants in applications for cancellation of removal in the immigration courts. Our attorneys develop persuasive trial strategies to clearly document the impact a deportation will have on a family, working with experts and performing independent research regarding the availability of special education resources and medical services. If you think you might qualify, call our office for an evaluation.