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What Is Cancellation of Removal?

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  • Written By: Daphne Mallory
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 22 July 2014
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A cancellation of removal in immigration law is a legal remedy that allows individuals who are subject to removal proceedings to avoid deportation and removal from the United States. Individuals requesting relief have to submit a cancellation of removal application and give reasons why an immigration judge should grant the application. The eligibility requirements include no criminal convictions or arrests, unusual hardship on the spouse or children due to the removal, and continuous physical presence in the United States for a certain period of time. If the application is granted, then the applicant can often remain as a lawful permanent resident. Individuals can only be granted a cancellation of removal once during their lifetime, and the grounds seeking removal are limited under Unites States law.

Individuals who want a cancellation of removal application granted often have to prove that they have no criminal convictions or arrests. The purpose of the requirement is to establish that the applicant is of good moral character. Immigration judges often view certain crimes as an indicator of whether the individual should be allowed to remain in the United States. Some of the crimes that may prohibit an immigration judge from awarding the remedy to an applicant include failure to pay federal income taxes and falsification of immigration documents. Failure to pay child support is also a factor that is used to judge the applicant’s character, and it may a part of an applicant’s criminal history.

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The hardship that an applicant’s spouse, children, and parents may face is another factor that immigration judges take into consideration when deciding whether to grant a cancellation of removal request. The separation of family members poses a hardship on all members in general, but individuals applying for cancellation of removal often have to prove other factors to show hardship. For example, an individual who has young children may have a better chance of proving hardship than another individual with adult children. Judges also consider whether the applicant has family members in his country of origin in order to determine whether the family will suffer hardship due to the separation if the applicant is deported.

Cancellation of removal proceedings can have three outcomes. To begin with, a lawful permanent resident may be allowed to keep her status and remain in the United States. Another outcome is for an individual who was never granted a lawful permanent residence to remain in the United States as a permanent resident. An immigration judge may decide to deny the application altogether after reviewing all the factors, which often results in the individual being deported. Immigration laws leave it to the judge’s discretion to decide whether to grant or deny a cancellation of removal application.

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