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Cancellation of Removal

Whereas an alien might file for Adjustment of Status or even submit an asylum claim before facing any removal proceedings, it is not generally a good idea to pursue Cancellation of Removal except as a last resort. If you are currently in the country illegally and want to learn about what options you have for earning residency, you should consult with an experienced San Francisco immigration attorney.

The Cancellation of Removal process has changed drastically since 1996. In that year, the IIRAIRA law was passed, and it made many aspects of immigration law stricter and less flexible. In order to win a Cancellation of Removal case today, an alien and his or her immigration lawyer have to prove the following:

  • that the alien has been continuously present in the United States for a period of at least ten (10) years prior to the Notice to Appear in Immigration Court;
  • that the alien has at least qualifying relative: a spouse, child, or parent who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident; and
  • that the qualifying relative would suffer "exceptional and extremely unusual hardship" if the alien were to be removed

Meeting these standards can be very difficult. Proving ten years of presence can be a tall order for undocumented workers, because so often they live in secret or without leaving a paper trail. Also, the standard of "exceptional and extremely unusual hardship" is a very high one—it is difficult to win a Cancellation of Removal case unless there are elements of hardship such as a severe medical condition faced by the qualifying relative.

Further, the IIRAIRA law set an annual cap on the number of Cancellation of Removal cases permitted each year. The cap is currently set at a mere 4,000 per year, which is a supply that is far smaller than the number of aliens who qualify. Thus, only the most extreme Cancellation of Removal cases prevail.

However, our immigration lawyer has had a disproportionately high percentage of successful judgments in these difficult cases over the past twelve years of trying them. For most aliens facing deportation, an attempt at Cancellation of Removal is better than simply accepting defeat.

However, our immigration lawyer has had a disproportionately high percentage of successful judgments in these difficult cases over the past twelve years of trying them. For most aliens facing deportation, an attempt at Cancellation of Removal is better than simply accepting defeat.

Additionally, these cases can take a long time to adjudicate fully. Especially in Northern California—in areas such as Alameda, Chico, Davis, Eureka, Fresno, Hayward, Marin, Modesto, Oakland, Redding, Sacramento, San Francisco, Susanville, Tahoe, and Truckee—months can pass between one hearing and the next. As an alien facing deportation, time is on your side. Every week that passes is another week you are able to stay in the country with your family, and it is another week that advocates for immigration reform are working to bring about have been violated.


Case # 1

A Lawful Permanent Resident for over 30 years was able to overcome DHS arguments for Removal from the U.S. for an embezzlement conviction in 1984. This European Immigrant of many decades ago was placed into immigration proceedings when he applied to renew his green card.


Ordinarily, an aggravated felon cannot defend his green card and permanent residence to an aggravated felony charge by DHS. Here, we successfully argued to the Immigration Court in Reno NV, that when the crime occurred in 1984, Congress had not amended the aggravated felony rule to apply to embezzlement. That change on the part of Congress took place two years after his conviction in 1984.


The judge ruled the government was not able to apply the aggravated felony rule back to 1984 when the plea of guilty occurred.

John Lee Carrico, Esq.

Case # 2

A mother of 3 U.S. citizen children, here without benefit of a visa for over 15 years, was able to reopen her removal hearing in San Francisco CA, where she had been ordered removed.


We were able to prove respondent was a person of good moral character and even though her children were not of sufficient age at this time to be shown to suffer exceptional and extremely unusual hardship, the court, with a stipulation of DHS counsel, granted administrative closure until the children became of sufficient age for respondent to prove exceptional hardship to them, thereby giving her the right to apply for permanent residence in the U.S.

John Lee Carrico, Esq.

Case # 3

A mother of 2 teenage, U. S. citizen children and daughter of a lawful permanent resident with medical and psychological problems was able to cancel her removal and remain in the U.S. to apply for permanent residence. The court ruled that her mother's hardship and that of her children, rose to the level of exceptional and extremely unusual hardship were their mother deported preventing her to care for them and their grandmother here in the United States.


Our attorneys had affirmatively placed her into immigration court by way of filing asylum/cancellation of removal.

John Lee Carrico, Esq.