Green Card Through the 10-Year Rule: How? Who Qualifies?

What is the 10-Year Rule?

For a very limited number of non-permanent residents who have been living in the U.S. for at least 10 years, there is a route to obtain a green card and permanent residency. This avenue is referred to by many as the “10-Year Rule”. However, it is actually used as a defense when you have been placed in removal proceedings and is called Cancellation of Removal. It is only granted to 4,000 U.S. residents each year. This blog will explore the eligibility for this immigration relief and give some tips on how you can prepare to argue for it in your case.

Who’s Eligible for 10-Year Cancellation of Removal?

The rules are strict when it comes to determining who qualifies for a 10-year Cancellation of Removal. You may only apply for this cancellation of removal if you have been served papers that indicate the U.S. government wishes to deport you (officially called the Notice to Appear). It is important to note, that you may not use this form of relief affirmatively, but rather only as a defense to your removal. Generally, the following prerequisites also apply:

  • You entered the U.S. and have stayed in the country for at least 10 years with no long trips (three months or more) out of the country
  • You have shown “good moral character” and have contributed to your community in positive ways
  • You do not have a criminal background that would otherwise make you ineligible for a green card
  • You must show that your deportation would cause an “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” on your parent, spouse, or child who is currently a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. Any other family member does not apply here – not even siblings. Successful cases often hinge on your ability to prove this fourth point of eligibility.

How Can You Bolster Your Cancellation of Removal Case?

One thing you should focus on is proving that your close family member would experience hardship. A few things could prove persuasive to the immigration judge overseeing your case, including:

  • Showing that your close family member has a serious chronic illness and depends on you to transport them to and from treatment and to pay medical bills
  • Proving that your child needs specialized around-the-clock medical care or has special needs that wouldn’t be accommodated in your home country
  • Your parent is very elderly and needs your help as a caretaker
  • Providing evidence in the form of Hospital records, sworn affidavits, psychological evaluations, and school records may also help

These are simply meant to serve as examples. Your attorney will help you gather evidence to support your case and counsel you on each court hearing you will need to attend. Your testimony and the testimony of others can be impactful in court and can help your arguments.


Attorney Kiomeiry Csépes and the rest of our firm are passionate about keeping family units together by providing caring legal services to our clients. For help navigating a 10-year cancellation of removal or any other immigration matter, give us a call at 609-241-7111 to discuss your options today.

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Csépes Law Offices Provides Individualized Legal Solutions To Those Needing Family Law, Immigration, Or Real Estate Counsel.

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