What Is Cancellation of Removal?

Cancellation of removal is a process that can only begin when an individual faces deportation. During deportation proceedings, you can potentially apply for cancellation of removal. While many people ask about cancellation of removal, it is very difficult to achieve and generally applies to a small number of people.

There are three categories of removal:

Lawful Permanent Residents

  • You can prove residency for at least five years.
  • You have lived in the U.S. for seven years (after admittance).
  • You have not been convicted of an aggravated felony.


Immigrants Living in the U.S. Without Legal Documentation

  • You have lived in the U.S. for 10 years.
  • You have exhibited good moral character during those 10 years.
  • Your spouse, child, or parent (who is either a citizen or lawful permanent resident) will suffer exceptional or extremely unusual hardship if you are deported.

And lastly, immigrant spouses or children who have been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by a citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or parent are eligible.

If you are a green card-holder or are married to a citizen or another green cardholder, and you have suffered extreme cruelty, you may want to keep or gain legal status. However, if you are undocumented, how can you apply for non-lawful permanent resident cancellation of removal?

One option, depending on the case, may be to apply for asylum. An immigration attorney can help you determine a best next step.

Parole in Place

Frequently Asked Questions About the Program

Last month, we looked at parole in place (PIP), a program that gives military families an extra option for obtaining a green card. We went over eligibility and how to apply. This month, we are taking a look at four commonly asked questions related to the program.

  1. Who should not request parole in place?

First, being granted parole in place serves as documented evidence that you have been paroled. You can then adjust your status without returning to your home country. It has no bearing on any other immigration issues you may have. In other words, if you have been previously arrested or ignored an order of deportation, you will have to deal with these independently from parole in place.

  1. Can my other family members take advantage of parole in place?

Parole in place is limited to a U.S. citizen’s spouse, parents, and unmarried minor children under the age of 21. Extended family members are not eligible.

  1. Is parole in place granted to every eligible person who applies?

There are no guarantees for receiving parole in place. Every application is reviewed by the USCIS on a case-by-case basis. It is ultimately up to them to determine who is accepted and who is denied.

  1. On Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, under Part 2. Application Type, which box should I check to indicate I am applying for parole in place?

The American Immigration Lawyers Association suggests that applicants check off box 1.d., which states, “I am applying for an Advance Parole Document to allow me to return to the United States after temporary foreign travel.” Write “parole in place” in red ink next to the description. Then, under Part 4. Information About Your Proposed Travel, question 1.a. Purpose of Trip, write “parole in place (PIP)” again on this line. To answer Part 4 question 1.b. List the countries you intend to visit, write “N/A.”

As always, if you have questions about parole in place, give us a call. We are happy to answer your questions and guide you through the process.

The U Nonimmigrant Visa Defined – A Quick Look at the U Visa

The U nonimmigrant visa, or U visa, was established as part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000. This visa allows witnesses and victims of certain kinds of crimes to apply for temporary nonimmigrant status, and it creates a path towards legal permanent residency.

To be eligible for the U visa, individuals must meet six criteria.

The first of these criteria is being the victim of a qualifying criminal activity, which can include:

  • Abduction
  • Abusive sexual contact
  • Blackmail
  • Domestic violence
  • Extortion
  • False imprisonment
  • Felonious assault
  • Female genital mutilation
  • Fraud in foreign labor contracting
  • Hostage
  • Incest
  • Involuntary servitude
  • Manslaughter
  • Murder
  • Obstruction of justice
  • Peonage
  • Perjury
  • Prostitution
  • Rape
  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Slave trade
  • Stalking
  • Torture
  • Trafficking
  • Unlawful criminal restraint
  • Witness tampering

Second, the victim must have also suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a direct result of the crime.

Third, the victim must have information related to the crime.

This information may prove important to the fourth point: The victim must be willing to help law enforcement or government officials who are investigating or prosecuting the crime.

Through this assistance, the victim will receive certification from the police, prosecutor, or judge working on the case. This documents that the victim was helpful to the investigation.

Additionally, and as part of the fifth point, the crime must have occurred on U.S. soil, or otherwise violate U.S. law.

Finally, the U visa applicant must be admissible into the U.S. under current U.S. immigration laws and regulations.

Anyone not currently admissible can apply for a waiver as part of Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant.

The best way to determine your eligibility is to contact Belmonte Law Firm. We can schedule a free consultation with an immigration attorney to discuss your situation and figure out your next steps.

Immigrating with a Criminal Record

When you have a criminal record, it can be difficult to work through the immigration process. Even if you only have one conviction on your record, obtaining a visa or a green card can be that much more challenging.However, you may be able to “set aside” a criminal conviction, which could give the edge you need in your pursuit of a visa or lawful permanent status.

Depending on the crime, one can apply, through the Superior Court, to set aside a conviction of guilt.

This doesn’t mean a record of the crime will disappear. Rather, should the conviction be set aside, certain rights will be restored — rights you may have lost when you pled guilty. This is because “set aside” is different that an expungement.

An expungement is when a court orders that the record of a criminal conviction be removed from your overall criminal history. Basically, record of the conviction is sealed and no longer publicly accessible. However, a set aside is your best available option in Arizona. Arizona law does not currently have a way to truly expunge a conviction.

To have a conviction set aside, you must petition the court as to why you are asking for the set aside.

Depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to have a drunk driving, drug possession, or other criminal conviction set aside.

If the conviction involved a dangerous weapon, caused physical injury, or was of sexual nature, you may not qualify for a set aside. Keep in mind, as part of the petition, you must have met all the conditions of your sentence.

The best way to determine your eligibility is to contact Belmonte Law Firm. We can schedule a free consultation with an immigration attorney to discuss your situation and figure out your next steps.


An Introduction and How You May Be Able to Benefit – Part 1Section 245(i), a provision of the Legal Immigration Family Equity (LIFE) Act. This provision allows an individual to become a legal permanent resident without leaving the United States. This happens through an adjustment of status.In most cases, people who entered the U.S. illegally, who have been unlawfully employed in the U.S., or did not maintain lawful status while in the U.S. cannot adjust their status and remain in the country at the same time.

About the Section 245(i) Provision.

When the law was introduced in 1994, it was to help people who would have qualified for a green card adjust their status after they paid a fine — which is currently $1,000.

In 1998, Congress decided to get rid of the 245(i) provision from the law. Anyone who qualified for the provision before Jan. 14, 1998, was allowed to continue to benefit from the provision. This group of people was grandfathered in.

However, there were many people who would have qualified, but they missed the deadline. These individuals could not adjust their status while in the U.S. and cannot return to their home country as part of the green card process. If they do return home, they may face a three-year or 10-year ban from returning to the U.S.

Not all was lost for these people. In 2000, Congress extended the grandfather date from Jan. 14, 1998, to April 30, 2001.

This change extended benefits to those who had previously missed the cut-off date. In the coming months, we will explore the Section 245(i) provision in greater depth, including a look at how you may qualify.

The best way to determine your eligibility is to contact Belmonte Law Firm. We can schedule a free consultation with an immigration attorney to discuss your situation and figure out your next steps.

PAROLE IN PLACE – How Military Families Can Benefit from This Immigration Law

Parole in place (PIP) gives military families an additional option when it comes to obtaining a green card. The parole in place program was first implemented in 2013.

Since then, it has given undocumented family members of U.S. military personnel the option to apply for a green card without leaving the country.

At its core, the PIP program helps keep families together. The immediate families of U.S. military members, active or veteran, may be eligible.

In order to be eligible for PIP, the current U.S. citizen and member of the military must be one of the following:

  • An active duty member of the U.S. armed forces
  • A current member of the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve
  • A person who previously served in the U.S. armed forces or Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve

The immediate family member who is seeking parole in place must be the following relation to military personnel:

  • A spouse
  • A parent
  • An unmarried child under the age of 21

In order to apply for PIP, you must fill out the Form I-131 Application for Travel Document.

You will also need the following documentation:

  • Evidence of family relationship to the U.S. citizen military service member (copy of a birth or marriage certificate)
  • Evidence the U.S. citizen family member is either an active duty member of the U.S. armed forces, in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve, or previously served in the U.S. armed forces or the Selected Reserve or the Ready Reserve (photocopy of the military identification card)
  • Two identical, color, passport-style photographs of the non-citizen applicant
  • Evidence of any favorable discretionary factors to share with USCIS (letters from community leaders or teachers showing your involvement in volunteer activities, education, or your children’s education)

If you have questions about parole in process, give us a call. We can answer your queries and walk you through each step of the process.

So You Want To Be A U.S. Citizen? – 3 Questions About the U.S. Naturalization Process

When Congress enacted the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), they established naturalization, the process by which foreign citizens or nationals could be granted U.S. citizenship. Here are some common questions about the process.
How can I qualify for citizenship through naturalization?

  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • You have been a lawful permanent resident for five years OR you are married to a U.S. citizen, received your green card through a USC, and have been a lawful permanent resident for three years.
  • You never deserted from the U.S. armed forces.
  • You exhibit good moral character.
  • You have been physically present in the United States for 30 months out of the previous five years — three years if you’re married to a U.S. citizen — prior to applying for citizenship.
  • You can read, write, and speak basic English, are familiar with the fundamentals of U.S. history, and can pass the civics test.
  • You understand and are willing to take an oath of allegiance to the United States and support the Constitution.

Do I have to take the civics test in English?

If you are over the age of 50 and have lived in the U.S. for at least 20 years since becoming a lawful permanent resident, or you’re over the age of 55 and have lived in the U.S. for at least 15 years since becoming a lawful permanent resident, then you can take the civics test in your native language.

Additionally, if you have a disability that would prevent you from passing the civics test and you have a doctor complete and sign a Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions, then you do not have to take the test.

What if I have an old criminal conviction?

Some criminal convictions over five years old may not disqualify you from naturalization, though you want to contact your lawyer to know for sure.

Naturalization is a daunting but important process for immigrants seeking U.S. citizenship. If you want to apply for citizenship through naturalization, call our office at 607-753-5383 and we can help you get through the process.

Understanding the Violence Against Women’s Act (VAWA) Self-Petition

The Violence Against Women Act was first passed in 1994. It was designed to give victims of abuse, along with law enforcement officials, additional tools in abuse cases.The act itself has been the center of many legal battles and was renewed in 2013 after a long political struggle in Washington, D.C.While VAWA includes many provisions for U.S. citizens, the act also allows certain victims of abuse who are not U.S. citizens to obtain lawful status.It’s important to note that provisions in VAWA are equally available to both women and men who meet certain requirements, as defined by the act. These provisions do extend to immigration, and VAWA allows applicants to apply for legal permanent residency immediately after their case is approved.You may be eligible for application (and self-petition) if you were abused by:

  • Your U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse (or if that spouse has abused your child). • Your U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident parent (including a stepparent).
  • Your U.S. citizen adult son or daughter.

Alternatively, if you have conditional legal permanent residence as a spouse (or as a child) of a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident, and the U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident has abused you, you are eligible for a “battered spouse or child waiver.”

If you are in removal proceedings before an immigration judge, and you were abused by your U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse or parent (or you have a child with the U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident who is abused by them), you may be able to apply for “VAWA cancellation of removal.”

The best way to determine your eligibility is to contact Belmonte Law Firm. We can schedule a free consultation with an immigration attorney to discuss your situation and figure out your next steps.

Is Your Fiancé a U.S. Citizen? Here’s How to Apply For A K-1 Fiancé Visa

If your fiancé is not a United States citizen, you must file for a K-1 (fiancé) visa before you can be legally wed.In order to be eligible to petition for a K-1 visa, you must be a citizen of the United States.To file for petition, you, as the United States citizen, must petition for your fiancé by filing a I-129F petition with your USCIS office. You must also provide proof of the following:

  • You and your fiancé are both free to marry and any previous marriages must have been legally terminated by divorce, death, or annulment.
  • There is a bona fide intention to marry within 90 days of your fiancé’s entry into the United States.
  • You met each other, in person, at least once within two years of filing for your petition. USCIS can waive this requirement if you apply.

Within two to three weeks after a Service Center receives and processes the petition, you will receive a First Notice of Action acknowledging that your K-1 petition has been opened.

In four to six months, you will receive a Second Notice of Action once your K-1 petition has been approved. Upon approval, the USCIS will notify the consulate, and the petition will be valid for four months. If your USCIS denies the petition, you can appeal the decision to USCIS’s Administrative Appeals Office using form I-290B.

After approval, you must request that your American Embassy open a provisional case file for your fiancé. You will then receive and complete Packet 3. Your case will then be forwarded by your Service Center to the National Visa Center, and then to the U.S. Embassy in your fiancé’s country. The U.S. Embassy will issue Packet 4 to your fiancé with a checklist of items and paperwork to be completed. It will also give further instructions on how to obtain medical exams and to schedule a visa interview.

After completing the interview, your fiancé will be admitted to the U.S. for 90 days for the wedding. Then, your spouse can apply for a Social Security number, and you should obtain a marriage certificate. Your spouse should also apply for an adjustment of status to become a conditional permanent resident, as well as employment authorization.

Don’t wait to marry your fiancé. Apply for a K-1 visa today!

The best way to determine your eligibility is to contact Belmonte Law Firm. We can schedule a free consultation with an immigration attorney to discuss your situation and figure out your next steps.

The Basics of Family-Based Immigration

Family-based immigration provides guidelines for certain U.S. citizens and legal permanent resident to sponsor their foreign-born family members.There are two ways family-based immigrants can be admitted to the United States:

  1. Through the family preference system
  2. As an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen

To the second point, immediate relative visas are not subject to numerical limitation. Immediate relatives are defined as the following:

  • Spouses of U.S. citizens
  • Parents of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years of age
  • Unmarried children (under 21 years of age) of U.S. citizens
  • Orphans adopted by U.S. citizens

Conversely, the following visas granted through the family preference system are subject to numerical limitations:

  • First Preference: Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their minor children, if any
  • Second Preference: Spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters (age 21 and over) of legal permanent residents
  • Third Preference: Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children
  • Fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children, provided the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years of age.

The best way to determine your eligibility is to contact Belmonte Law Firm. We can schedule a free consultation with an immigration attorney to discuss your situation and figure out your next steps.