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What Is the Stop-Time Rule?

William J. Quirk, Esq., LLC Jan. 24, 2024

Sign Approved Stamp On Document to permit and certify for work documentImmigration can often feel like a labyrinth of complex terms and processes. One such term you might come across is the concept of Cancellation of Removal. But what exactly does it entail? Let's break it down. 

Cancellation of Removal is essentially a legal lifeline that allows certain non-permanent residents who are facing deportation to apply for lawful permanent residency, thereby avoiding removal from the United States. This form of relief, available in immigration court, does not apply to all; only to individuals who meet specific eligibility criteria. It's important to understand these requirements as they play a crucial role in determining whether an individual can stay in the country or faces the risk of removal.

To qualify for this relief, non-permanent residents must demonstrate continuous presence in the United States for at least a decade. They must also show good moral character during their time in the U.S., and crucially, they must not have been convicted of certain crimes that would make them ineligible for cancellation of removal. Lastly, they need to establish that their removal would result in exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to their U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse, parent, or child. 

Decoding the Stop-Time Rule 

Now, let's delve into another critical aspect of immigration law—the Stop-Time Rule. The Stop-Time Rule is a provision that determines when an individual's period of continuous physical presence in the United States ends for the purpose of cancellation of removal eligibility. In simpler terms, it's a rule that "stops the clock" on an individual's continuous presence once certain triggering events occur. 

The implications of the Stop-Time Rule can be significant for an individual's eligibility for cancellation of removal. If the rule is triggered before the individual has reached the required period of continuous physical presence, they may no longer be eligible for this form of relief. It's a rule that can have far-reaching consequences, and understanding it is crucial for anyone navigating the immigration law landscape. 

How Is the Stop-Time Rule Triggered? 

The Stop-Time Rule isn't triggered arbitrarily. Specific events must occur for this rule to come into effect. One such event is the issuance of a Notice to Appear (NTA) by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). When an individual receives an NTA, which initiates removal proceedings, their period of continuous physical presence stops. 

Another triggering event is the commission of certain criminal offenses. If an individual commits certain crimes, their continuous physical presence is deemed to have ended as of the date of the offense. Lastly, if an individual leaves the United States during removal proceedings, their continuous physical presence is considered to have ended on the day of departure. 

Seek Trusted Legal Counsel 

Understanding the Stop-Time Rule and its implications is critical when dealing with matters of immigration law. Remember, knowledge is power, and in this case, it could mean the difference between staying in the country you call home or facing the prospect of removal.

Based out of Hackensack, New Jersey, and serving clients throughout Clifton, Paterson, and West New York areas, William Quirk brings his wealth of knowledge to help individuals through their immigration journey. He's there every step of the way, assisting in obtaining permanent residency, ensuring paperwork is filed correctly, and providing guidance on naturalization requirements. When the going gets tough, such as in cases of potential deportation, he stands firm, offering legal representation and crafting defense strategies. 

With William Quirk at your side, the immigration process becomes less of a maze and more of a guided tour, providing reassurance and confidence in what can often be a stressful time.