This analysis was prepared by staff attorney Marissa Malouff from the Immigration Law Office of Los Angeles, P.C. Attorney Malouff is a former USCIS officer and Department of Justice attorney who drafted the decisions for immigration judges in the Los Angeles immigration court. To schedule your consultation with her, call us at (800) 792-9889 or text us at: (213) 375-4084.
On June 21, 2018, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Pereira v Sessions, No. 17-459, 558 U.S. ___, (June 21, 2018) (slip opinion), which could have a far-reaching impact on immigration court proceedings and may make many immigrants with difficult cases eligible for immigration relief. This decision is a small bit of welcome good news in an ever-changing immigration system.
How does this case impact you? First, let’s provide you with a little bit of background.
Every person in immigration court (officially named the Executive Office for Immigration Review) receives a Notice to Appear (NTA). This document is produced by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). To initiate immigration court proceedings against a non-citizen, DHS serves this NTA on the non-citizen and files it with the immigration court. This begins the deportation or removal case. Only after this NTA is filed does the Immigration Judge have control over a case.
Relatedly, once you are in immigration court, you can apply for a form of relief called cancellation of removal if you have resided in the United States for a long enough period of time. Many people have mistakenly heard that this is the ten-year rule, and that anyone can apply for if they have lived here for ten years. In fact, only immigrants who are already in immigration court proceedings can apply for this form of relief–and not even all of them can apply. If you apply for this relief as a non-green card holder, you have to prove that you have resided in the United States for at least ten years before you were served with the NTA. If you already have a green card, then you have to show that you lived in the United States for at least seven years before you were served with a NTA Essentially, the residency time period cuts off at the time that you are served with the NTA.
For example, if you are a non-green card holder and came to the United States in April of 2008; if you are then served with a NTA in March of 2018, you would not be eligible for cancellation of removal. Why not? Because you did not reside in the United States for ten years prior to the NTA. This is referred to as the “stop-time” rule, and it is a major reason why immigrants without competent attorneys lose their cancellation of removal cases.
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