February 21, 2011: Is Ten Years in the US Enough to Apply For Permanent Residency?

Is Ten Years in the US Enough to Apply For Permanent Residency?

Can I get lawful permanent residency if I am a high school student that has been living in the U.S. for 10 years?
— Anonymous

Not unless you are in removal proceedings, apply for Cancellation of Removal before the immigration judge, and get the application granted by the judge. Unfortunately, this method of obtaining lawful permanent residency is very difficult and time consuming. The level of proof needed for an approval is exceptionally high. You must prove to the immigration judge that you have resided continuously in the USA for 10 years, that you are a person of good moral character, and that your removal from the USA would constitute an exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to a parent, spouse or child who is an American citizen or permanent resident alien. You also cannot have been convicted of certain crimes.

Is it worth it to turn yourself in to Customs and Border Protection so that they place you in removal proceedings by issuing a Notice to Appear before an immigration judge so you can file such an application? That is a question that I cannot answer in this space because all of the equities have to be examined first. I would say that it would be a rarely made recommendation. I suggest you speak to a skilled immigration lawyer to see whether this is appropriate for you. If the DREAM Act becomes law, you may qualify to file for relief under that as well.

Michael Shane and Evan Shane, Immigration Attorneys