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Does Length of Time in the US Count for or Against Unauthorized Immigrants?

Written By The Shapiro Law Group on November 28, 2016

An unauthorized immigrant going through removal procedures can apply for a cancellation of removal waiver. The waiver can allow an unauthorized immigrant to remain in the United States permanently if they have lived in the country for ten years or more.

However, the length of time is not the only stipulation for the cancellation of removal. With an immigration attorney Chicago, residents can figure out how best to go about the process.

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infographic_Does Time in US help Unauthorized Immigrants

Long Term Unauthorized Immigrants

Nearly two-thirds of unauthorized immigrants in the United States have lived in the country for a decade, at least. In that time, many of them have built lives, including starting families.

If someone finds themselves at the mercy of the immigration authorities, the length of time they’ve been in the country can come into play on their behalf.

The Cancellation of Removal Waiver

A cancellation of removal for non-legal permanent residents comes with four main stipulations.

  1. Continuous residency in the United States for at least ten years
  2. A history of being of “good moral character” during those years
  3. No criminal convictions that would call for removal
  4. Removal would cause “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” to a spouse, child, parent who is a legal citizen

The length of residency is important, but the other aspects of eligibility are just as important. In addition, an unauthorized immigrant has no guarantee of successfully achieving a green card or permanent resident status even if they meet all of these requirements.

The only way to apply for a cancellation of removal is to already be in the removal process. Beyond that, much of the decision will still fall to the discretion of the judge.

Exceptional and Extremely Unusual Hardship

It’s possible to prove the first three stipulations easily enough, usually. Proving that leaving the country creates “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” for those left behind, is one of the more difficult aspects of the cancellation. Because approval is still up to the individual discretion of the judge, the best thing an applicant can do is argue each point.

It’s also helpful for those seeking the waiver to secure the help of an immigration attorney Chicago office. Arguing and presenting evidence for each point must be handled with care. It’s beneficial to have the services of someone more familiar with the history of such waivers and the temperaments of the judges that approve or reject them.