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Immigration And Nationality Act 212(c)

Deportation Defense For Lawful Permanent Residents

Who Qualifies For INA 212(c) Relief?

It depends, as in many areas of law, how the parameters are defined.

Since 1996, section 212(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act has been at the center of deportation defense efforts for lawful permanent residents who have been convicted of criminal offenses by plea bargains.


For several years, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), the nation’s highest administrative body for interpreting and applying immigration law, had used the “comparable grounds” approach to decide which permanent residents are allowed to claim INA 212(c) as a defense against removal from the United States.

In the case of Judulang v. Holder, the Supreme Court rejected the BIA’s “comparable grounds” approach.

In its place, the Supreme Court substituted a “substantive analysis” approach to deciding how to evaluate the immigration charges against lawful permanent residents and determining who should be allowed to continue residing in the U.S.


The two graphs shown above illustrate the differences between the BIA’s approach to evaluating 212(c) cases vis-à-vis the Supreme Court’s method of analysis.

Given the complex rules and the contradictory decisions in this area of immigration law, 212(c) is confusing for many immigrants, their family members, and the general public.

Hence, we designed these graphs. It’s our hope they provide an easier way for non-lawyers to grasp the different approaches used by courts in Immigration and Nationality Act 212(c) cases involving permanent residents facing deportation due to convictions.

To the extent permanent residents comprehend these approaches, they may be able to avoid the pain and agony of family separation caused by deportation.

If you’re interested in a fuller discussion of these issues, click here: Why The Judulang Decision Is Important For Lawful Permanent Residents.

By Carlos Batara