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January 17, 2011: Can You Apply For Residency After Living in the USA for 10 Years?

Can You Apply For Residency After Living in the USA for 10 Years?


I heard that you can apply for a green card if you came here legally and have been here for 10 years. Is that true?
— Anonymous

It is true under very limited circumstances and the application serves as a form of relief in removal proceedings. It is not an application that can be made affirmatively with USCIS. Rather, an application for cancellation of removal for non-permanent residents can only be filed with the Immigration Court. This requires that the applicant be in removal proceedings.

It is generally not a good idea to surrender to ICE and ask to be placed in removal proceedings for the purpose of applying for cancellation of removal since the burden of proof in those proceedings is extraordinarily high for the applicant. Yes, the applicant must prove physical presence in the USA for ten years. That part is easy. However, the applicant must also prove that removal from the USA would constitute extreme and exceptionally unusual hardship to a USC or LPR immediate relative. This is a very high level of hardship and the DHS attorneys are trained to oppose these applications in most cases. Failure to establish eligibilty will result in a deportation order or an order of voluntary departure from the USA.

Is it worth the risk to surrender for the purpose of applying? While every case is judged on its own merit, in most instances, the answer in no. There are persons who use the media to advertise “10 year residency” applications for undocumented immigrants. Before considering taking this route, I urge you to consult with a licensed immgration lawyer.

Michael Shane and Evan Shane, Immigration Attorneys

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