What is the Stop-Time Rule?

In early November, United States Supreme Court justices considered how to apply the stop-time rule, an immigration policy that ends the period of continuous presence in the United States that lawful permanent residents need to avoid removal. With the stop-time rule, regardless of how long they have been in the United States, green card holders who commit certain crimes can face removal proceedings and ultimately deportation.

When reviewing the stop-time rule, Supreme Court justices were particularly concerned about differentiating what types of crimes justified removal. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) lists crimes of moral turpitude and controlled substances that will trigger the stop-time rule. Yet, there is still much debate over whether these parameters are reasonable.

The gray area seems to be in deciphering what types of infractions Congress envisioned for the stop-time rule. Is possession of marijuana on par with more serious offenses, such as assault or robbery, when it comes at such a steep price as deportation? The Court’s decision will directly impact thousands of immigrants with criminal convictions living legally in the United States. It could mean relief from removal or deportation.

Meeting the Seven Year Deadline

Lawful permanent residents admitted on any status and who live continuously in the United States for seven years are eligible for a cancellation of removal before the stop-time rule is triggered. Generally, two things can stop the clock for an individual hoping to avoid deportation:

  • Committing a crime or offense described or referred to in the Immigration and Nationality Act
  • Receiving a Notice to Appear, which initiates immigrant court proceedings

Aggravated Offenses and the Stop-Time Rule

If you are convicted of an aggravated felony offense, your continuous residency in the United States is likely to end, making you eligible for removal. While the INA includes a full list of such crimes, the most common include:

  • Burglary
  • Drug trafficking
  • Fraud
  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Theft
  • Violence

Most people living in the United States would agree that dangerous criminals who commit violent crimes should forfeit their opportunity to live and thrive in this country. Yet, as the Supreme Court justices recently heard during arguments earlier this month, the stop-time rule leaves too much room for interpretation. It is possible more work needs to be done to ensure the rule is applied reasonably, making it possible for productive residents to remain in this country.

Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Help Clients Avoid Removal and Deportation Proceedings

If you were charged with a crime and have concerns about how this will impact your status, contact the Philadelphia immigration lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. as soon as possible. We will carefully review every detail of your case and recommend the best legal course of action going forward. We explain every step of the legal process, so you feel confident you are making the right decisions for you and your family. To schedule an initial consultation, call us at 215-925-4435 or contact us online. Located in Philadelphia, we work with clients across Pennsylvania and nationwide.