Last week, an Immigration Judge in New York granted my client a waiver for his criminal conviction! The waiver granted was under former INA section 212(c) while my client was in removal proceedings.
What is an INA section 212(c) waiver?
212(c) is an old form of relief that very few people qualify for nowadays. It is available to green card holders who have very old criminal convictions (pre-1996), including for an aggravated felony!
My client had a drug sale conviction from 1986. He has been a green card holder since 1977! Because he pleaded guilty PRIOR to changes in the immigration laws in 1996, he qualified for the 212(c) waiver.
In 1996, cancellation of removal (INA section 240A(a)) replaced 212(c) waiver and cancellation of removal is NOT available to green card holders who have an aggravated felony conviction!
So if a green card holder has an aggravated felony conviction after early 1996, there will be very limited forms ore relief available to that green card holder.
Can a green card holder apply for citizenship with an aggravated felony conviction?
Now that my client has succeeded on his waiver, not only does he get to keep his green card, but he also is eligible to apply for citizenship!
If his conviction had been after November 29, 1990, he would be permanently ineligible for citizenship because he would legally not be able to show “good moral character” under INA section 101(f).
INA section 101(f) legally prevents a green card holders from ever showing “good moral character” if they have an aggravated felony conviction after November 29, 1990.
So whether a green card holder with an aggravated felony conviction will be eligible for citizenship will depend on the date of the conviction!
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