cancellation of removal

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Cancellation of removal is an immigration benefit whereby permanent residents and non-permanent residents may apply to an immigration judge to adjust their status from that of deportable alien to one lawfully admitted for permanent residence, provided certain conditions are met.

According to 8 U.S. Code § 1229b eligibility requirements differ between aliens who are lawful permanent residents and those who are non-permanent residents. To be eligible for cancellation of removal, a permanent resident must show that they: 

  • has been a lawful permanent resident for at least five years, 
  • has continuously resided in the United States for at least seven years, and 
  • has not been convicted of an aggravated felony

Non-permanent residents must establish that they:

  • has been physically present in the United States for a continuous period of 10 years 
  • has been of good moral character during the 10-year period, 
  • has not been convicted of select criminal offenses, and,
  • that removal would result in exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to US citizen or lawful permanent resident family members.

The immigration judge has discretion to grant or deny cancellation or removal applications. In determining whether cancellation is warranted, the judge may consider the length of residence in the United States, family and communities ties in the United States and community service work, among other things. 

[Last updated in March of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]