If you are a lawful permanent and you find yourself in removal proceedings, you’ve likely been convicted of a crime. You must speak with an experienced immigration attorney to explore your options and defenses to deportation.

One common defense to deportation is Cancellation of Removal for Permanent Residents. If you are granted cancellation of removal, your status as a lawful permanent resident (LPR) will no longer be in jeopardy due to the conviction. However, you can only be granted cancellation of removal one time, so any subsequent arrests and convictions could place your residency in jeopardy again.

You are ineligible for LPR cancellation if: (1) you entered the US as a crewman, (2) certain non-immigrants on a J visa, (3) you were a persecutor or terrorist, or (4) you were previously granted cancellation or 212(c) relief in the past.

You can find the rules for Lawful Permanent Resident Cancellation of Removal at INA §240A(a) and are as follows.

Lawful Permanent Residency

The applicant must have been a lawful permanent resident for at least five years. This period starts when an LPR is admitted as a lawful permanent resident. This section is not subject to the ‘time-stop’ rule below. This means that even if an LPR does not have the five years at the outset of the hearing, they may reach the five years during proceedings.

Continuous Residency

The applicant must have resided in the United States continuously for seven years since being admitted in any status. Continuous residency starts when the individual was admitted in any status-non-immigrant visa, border crossing card, refugee, etc.

Time Stop Rule

The seven years will ‘stop’ when (1) the ‘notice to appear’ is issued, OR (2) the individual commits a crime under INA §212(a)(2) that makes him inadmissible, or removable under §237(a)(2) or §237(a)(4). This means that the offense MUST make the person inadmissible under INA §212(a)(2) for the ‘time-stop’ rule to kick in. Thus, if the offense makes someone deportable under §237(a)(2), but not inadmissible under §212(a)(2), the clock will not stop.

  • Inadmissible under INA §212(a)(2): this section refers to crimes involving moral turpitude and controlled substance convictions.
  • Removable under INA §237(a)(2): this section refers to certain criminal convictions, including certain CIMTs, multiple criminal convictions, high-speed flight from immigration officials, and failure to register as a sex offender.
  • Removable under INA §237(a)(4): this section refers to security and terrorism-related grounds, including Nazi persecutions, genocide, and recruitment of child soldiers.

This means that the continuous residency will stop, at the latest, when the NTA is issued. If the time stops due to a criminal conviction, it stops the day the crime was committed.

Aggravated Felony

The applicant cannot have been convicted of an aggravated felony. The list of aggravated felonies is found at INA §101(a)(43). If you have ever been convicted of an aggravated felony, you may not apply for LPR cancellation.


After you show that you are eligible for LPR cancellation, you must demonstrate to the judge that you deserve to keep your green card. You can present proof of your family, community, employment, and financial ties in the U.S., hardship to your family or yourself if you were removed, and evidence of rehabilitation.

If you are a lawful permanent resident who has been placed in removal proceedings, please contact an immigration attorney who is trustworthy and knowledgeable about possible defenses to deportation! Our attorneys at Landerholm Immigration, APC, have extensive experience in defending removal cases. Please feel free to call us at 510-574-7377 to see how we can help!