By: Joseph G. Cella, Esq.

Many people are not aware that when a lawful permanent resident “LPR”, i.e., person with a “green card” commits any number of crimes, s/he can be deported. However, cancellation of removal for permanent residents may provide one-time relief from deportation for LPR’s who have committed certain crimes.


Specifically, although cancellation of removal for permanent residents is a defense to a charge of being removable, not every LPR is eligible to apply for it. To qualify for cancellation of removal, one must show that:

  • 5 years of green card status: S/he has had his/her green card for at least five years;
  • 7 years continuous presence in the U.S.: S/he has lived in the United States continuously for seven years after being admitted in any status; and
  • No aggravated felony convictions: S/he has no criminal convictions which can be classified as “aggravated felonies” under U.S. Immigration law.

Common Issues in LPR Cancellation Cases:

  • Fraud: If an individual acquired his/her green card through fraud or misrepresentation, s/he isn’t considered to have been “lawfully admitted for permanent residency” and therefore, doesn’t qualify for cancellation of removal;
  • “Time Stop” Rule: Although the seven-year continuous presence is considered to have ended when either the government serves a Notice to Appear, the charging document that starts deportation or removal proceedings, or the green card holder commits certain criminal offenses,
  • the five-years period of permanent residency may include time after a deportable criminal offense and after the government has issued a Notice to Appear, initiating deportation proceedings, and while the green card holder is waiting for a merits hearing in Immigration Court.

Discretionary Factors:

To win a case for cancellation of removal, the respondent must persuade an Immigration Judge that his/her “positive equities” outweigh any “negative equities”.

Positive Equities Include But Are Not Limited To:

  • Family ties in the United States
  • Residence of long duration in the United States, especially when begun at an early age
  • Evidence of hardship to the applicant and family if deportation occurs
  • Evidence of rehabilitation if a criminal record exists
  • Evidence of good moral character
  • Service in the U.S. military
  • Employment history
  • Business ties or property
  • Community service

Negative Equities Include But Are Not Limited To:

  • Nature of the grounds of removal
  • Presence of additional significant violations of immigration laws
  • Existence of a criminal record and, if so, its nature, seriousness, and recency
  • Evidence of bad character

In sum, cancellation of removal for LPR’s involves a “balancing of the equities” by the Immigration Judge. Not only must the respondent provide evidence of of his positive equities, s/he must be forthright and honest about his/her negative equities, and take responsibility for them. Showing rehabilitation and the positive contributions the individual has made and is making in the lives of those around him, as well as any family ties s/he may have in the U.S. is also vital in such a case.

For further information or with any immigration issues, please contact us at



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