Legal Rights After Cancellation of Removal Has Been Granted

Learn what happens after being granted cancellation of removal by an immigration court judge in the United States.

After a grant of Cancellation of Removal in Immigration Court (formally referred to as the Executive office for Immigration Review or EOIR), you will be permitted to remain in the United States lawfully. Below, you'll find information on what happens next and in the future.

Proving Your Status as a New U.S. Resident

The lawful permanent resident card (I-551 or "green card") will prove your new immigrant status. Such proof is useful for employers, travel, the Social Security office, and so forth.

However, exactly when you will receive this card depends on what your status was before you applied for Cancellation of Removal; in particular, whether you had been a lawful permanent resident (LPR) before and your LPR status is being restored, as opposed to whether you were undocumented and are getting your first U.S. green card.

If you had permanent residence before and your green card still shows an expiration date in the future, your card is valid proof of legal permanent residency after the grant of Cancellation of Removal.

If you had permanent residence before but your green card expired during your removal proceedings, you should apply for a new card on USCIS Form I-90 and pay the relevant filing fee. Include a copy of the judge's order granting Cancellation of Removal as proof that you are eligible for this renewal.

If you were an undocumented alien before being granted relief, expect a wait of several years before you receive the actual green card. There is an annual statutory limitation on cancellation of removal cases and only 10,000 can be awarded each year. Other applicants were no doubt granted the same relief from an immigration judge ahead of you, and are still in the queue.

You will have to wait until you fall within the 10,000 limit for a particular year before your green card arrives in the mail. You are, however, eligible to continue to renew your work permit (EAD) and work in the U.S. with authorization. Form I-765 is the relevant one for this purpose.

How Soon After A Grant of Cancellation of Removal May I Travel Internationally?

Before taking any trips outside the United States, you'll need to have appropriate documentation to return with. A judge's order granting Cancellation of Removal is not enough, although you should definitely bring it with you for help in proving your immigrant status upon return. You'll also need both a physical green card or I-551 stamp in your passport and a passport from your home country.

If you previously held a green card, and it is still valid when you are granted Cancellation of Removal, you may travel internationally with it and should have no trouble returning to the United States.

Despite being a U.S. legal permanent resident, remember that your citizenship has not changed. That is why you also need a valid passport from your country for international travel.

When Am I Eligible for U.S. Citizenship?

The time period and relevant requirements to apply for U.S. citizenship do not change after a grant of Cancellation of Removal.

Whether you are a green card holder who was granted Cancellation of Removal and therefore never lost your residency, or whether you were undocumented, you must, before applying, have spent a certain number of years in the U.S. as a lawful resident, maintained physical presence in the United States for at least six months of every twelve, and maintained good moral character.

You will also need to complete and submit Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, then attend an interview and pass exams covering English and Civics.

If you were a legal permanent resident who was convicted of a crime and ultimately granted Cancellation of Removal, consider becoming a U.S. citizen as soon as you are eligible. Until then, expect to be stopped and queried by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) upon your return to the United States after international travel. That's because your criminal history might still come up in its database. This brief delay in entry to the United States at ports of entry can typically be cured with U.S. citizenship.

What Happens If I'm Convicted of a Crime After a Grant of Cancellation of Removal?

Many types of crimes will make an immigrant deportable. It is important to comply with the laws in the United States so you don't find yourself in removal proceedings again. If you were to find yourself in this position, you would need an attorney to determine eligibility for any possible form of relief.

Getting Legal Help

If you haven't already, it is advisable to retain an experienced immigration attorney to help you deal with any questions and protect your newly won immigration status in the United States.

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