Cancellation of Removal
Cancellation of removal is only available for individuals who are currently in deportation proceedings before an immigration judge. It cannot be used affirmatively to request immigration status. If cancellation is granted to a lawful permanent resident (LPR), a "green card" holder, then that individual is returned to the same LPR status previously held. If it is granted to a non-LPR, then the non-LPR's status is in most cases "adjusted" to that of a permanent resident.
For an LPR to qualify for cancellation of removal, they must have lived in the United States as a permanent resident for at least five years, been physically present in the U.S. for at least seven years, have not been convicted of an aggravated felony, and they must warrant discretion from the Attorney General's office. In short, cancellation of removal is not automatic.
For a non-LPR to qualify for cancellation of removal, they must have lived in the U.S. for at least ten years, have been a person of good moral character for at least ten years, and have not been convicted of certain criminal offenses. Also, they must have family, either children or a spouse, who would suffer “extraordinary and exceptionally unusual hardship” if the person in deportation proceedings were deported.
There are only 4,000 non-LPRs each year who are allowed to be granted cancellation of removal. There is no such cap on grants of cancellation of removal for LPRs.
For a non-LPR, it can sometimes be dangerous to use cancellation of removal to get a green card, as it identifies you to the immigration authorities as someone who has been living in the United States illegally. This opens yourself up to the possibility of removal from the U.S. We encourage you not to surrender yourself to ICE just to be placed in immigration proceedings.