Cancellation of removal

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Cancellation of removal is a discretionary form of immigration relief available to certain aliens who have been placed in removal proceedings before the United States Executive Office for Immigration Review. It was designed to replace "suspension of deportation", a form of relief available prior to the passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA). A different standard for eligibility for cancellation is applied between lawful permanent residents (LPRs) and other aliens.[1] Recipients of a grant of cancellation of removal are eligible for permanent residency in the United States.


Prior to April 1, 1997, the effective date of IIRIRA, a form of relief known as "suspension of deportation" was available. Although functionally similar to cancellation of removal relief, suspension had a lower eligibility standard and did not distinguish between LPR and non-LPR applicants. To qualify for suspension relief, an applicant under the pre-IIRIRA standard was required to demonstrate the following: 1) Continuous physical presence in the United States for a period of seven years;
2) "Good moral character" during this period; and
3) That the applicant's removal would result in "extreme hardship" to the applicant or any qualifying U.S. citizen or LPR relatives, including an applicant's spouse, parents, and/or children.

Cancellation of removal for lawful permanent residents[edit]

An LPR of the United States (green card holder) may be placed in immigration proceedings due to certain criminal convictions that render them inadmissible or subject to being removed from the United States. An LPR convicted of any aggravated felony within 7 years of his or her continuous presence in the United States is statutorily precluded from cancellation of removal relief.[2]

According to INA § 240A(a), 8 U.S.C. § 1229b(a), cancellation of removal is available to any person who: (1) has been an LPR for not less than 5 years; (2) has resided in the United States continuously for 7 years after having been admitted in any status; and (3) has not been convicted of an aggravated felony.

Cancellation of removal for nonpermanent residents[edit]

According to INA § 240A(b), 8 U.S.C. § 1229b(b), cancellation of removal and adjustment of status is available to any alien who: (1) has continuously resided in the United States for at least ten years; (2) has been a person of good moral character throughout this time; (3) is not otherwise subject to criminal bars arising from a conviction of any crime outlined in INA § 212(a)(2), §237(a)(2), or §237(a)(3); and (4) establishes that removal would result in "exceptional and extremely unusual hardship" to the alien's spouse, parent, or child who is a United States citizen or legal permanent resident.


  • ^ 8 U.S.C. § 1229b
  • ^ 8 U.S.C. § 1229b(a)