1207761By Jeremy B. Love, Immigration Attorney
September 01, 2015

As an immigration attorney, I often receive questions from members of the community about the 10 Year Law or the 10-Year Visa.

There exists a lot of confusion about this issue due to the complicated nature of immigration law as well as inaccuracies spread by non-immigration attorneys, including notarios.

So, here is the answer to the question, “does the 10-Year Law even exist?”.

The short answer is no, there is no 10 Year Law.  Well, where did this idea come from?

Well, there is a defense to deportation called Cancellation of Removal, that among other requirements, includes ten years residing in the US. 

Ok, then, what is Cancellation of Removal?

Cancellation of Removal allows someone who is currently in a removal proceeding with the Immigration Court and has immediate relative US citizen family who would suffer extreme hardship to stay in the US and obtain permanent residence. 

Cancellation of Removal is only available for someone who has been in the US for at least 10 years prior to a removal action being filed with the Immigration Court.  Also, the immigrant must show good moral character without a serious criminal or immigration history.

What’s the risk in seeking Cancellation of Removal if you’re not in a removal proceeding?  Well, if your case is denied, there is a very real possibility that you will be removed from the US.

The most difficult part of Cancellation of Removal is showing that a US citizen or permanent resident relative would suffer exceptional and extremely unusual hardship without the immigrant in the US.

A good example of a case that was recently approved, involved a man who has been in the US for 15 years, with no criminal or immigration history, and whose US citizen wife suffers from a serious illness and needed his assistance in the US to obtain her medical treatment. 

Due to the risk involved in Cancellation of Removal, generally it is only advisable if you already have been picked up by ICE and removal proceedings have been initiated.  Otherwise, there may be less risky options.

Another option would be a family petition.  If you have an immediate relative who is a US citizen, your relative could file a family petition and then you could request a stateside waiver in order to obtain permanent residence through consular processing.

What should I do if I’ve already filed?  If you have a valid case for Cancellation of Removal, you could continue with the case.  Otherwise, you may want to consider requesting that your case be closed.

I highly recommend consulting with an experienced immigration attorney about your case to determine the best course of action.

Remember that if you have retained an attorney to assist you with your case, you cannot retain a new attorney without first terminating your attorney-client relationship with your current attorney.

There are many myths and common misconceptions regarding immigration law.  In my experience, this one is one of the worst due to the risk involved and the expense of the process. 


Hopefully, this article will clear up some of the misinformation and help those to better understand the complexity of immigration law.