“Do I qualify for amnesty? I have lived here for 14 years and have never been in any kind of trouble.“
(Submitted by Helen M., Banning, CA)
Let’s begin with the issue of amnesty. There is no such immigration program.
Talk about amnesty is hype. Most of it is not good news.
First, anyone who tells you that you qualify for amnesty may be pulling your leg. He or she may be trying to set you up for immigration fraud.
Often times, an immigrant is encouraged to file for benefits under a pretense that a certain immigration program will help them. Not knowing better, they pay the individual, who may be an immigration assistant, notario, paralegal, or worse, a unscrupulous lawyer, to help them.
The paperwork may never be completed and the person helping you skips town. Maybe the paperwork is completed but never filed. Other times, the application is filed and many months later, the immigrant ends up facing deportation due to committing immigration fraud.
If you would like to know more about how this happens, you may want to learn more about how to prevent becoming a victim of such fraud scams.
Second, the term amnesty is misused in the news.
By television reporters. On radio talk shows. In newspaper and magazine articles.
Amnesty is often utilized by anti-immigrant groups to negatively label almost any program which helps immigrants and their families.
Their attacks are deliberate. They want the public to think immigrants can enter this country without permission and still get free benefits with ease.
As you and I both know, this is far from the truth. Yet, many citizens, unfamiliar with immigration rules, fall for such propaganda.
There’s a third possibility.
Maybe the person who mentioned amnesty is just confused about the wording. It could be that he or she really meant to say you qualify for cancellation of removal.
Cancellation of removal is a form of deportation defense. It allows you to ask an immigration judge to cancel the government’s attempt to deport you.
For cancellation of removal, you need more than 10 straight years of residency and good moral character. It seems, based on what you wrote, that you meet these requirements.
You also need to prove hardship – exceptional and extremely unusual hardship – to a qualifying relative of yours.
Not to scare you, but this level of hardship is difficult to prove. As judges like to say, this type of hardship is more severe than the ordinary hardship suffered by most families when someone is deported.
If you’re interested in learning more about the types of evidence you’ll need to win, here’s a link to short video you may want to watch: Deportation Defense: How To Win Your Cancellation Of Removal Trial.
Here’s something else you should know.
Who is a qualifying relative? Only a spouse, child, or parent who is a lawful permanent resident or U.S. citizen.
In short, don’t try to handle this type of case on your own. The odds are stacked against you.
Seek out a one-to-one interview with a licensed, competent immigration attorney.
And don’t buy into the amnesty hype.