I entered illegally! Can I get a greencard?
At Ranchod Law we are proud to have helped countless individuals legalize their status after having entered the U.S. illegally. If you entered illegally by committing immigration fraud (for example, by using a fake passport or visa at the airport or at the border or another point of entry into the U.S.) please refer to our article on that topic from last week. If you entered illegally by crossing into the U.S. via a border undetected (entered without inspection) then this article is for you! Typically an individual who entered the U.S. illegally cannot apply for adjustment of status (the process by which an individual obtains their greencard in the U.S.) but in this article we will discuss two possible ways to obtain your lawful permanent residency (greencard) even if you entered illegally.
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) 245(i)
One way to obtain your greencard if you entered the U.S. illegally is by virtue of a law in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) 245(i). If you are the beneficiary of a petition (I-130) filed by a family member OR filed an application for labor certification on or before April 30, 2001, AND if you were physically present in the U.S. on December 21, 2000 you may be able to obtain your greencard even though you entered illegally. In consultations at both our Sacramento, Santa Clara, and San Francisco offices we’ve had clients sheepishly bring up a long ago filed petition and we want to jump with joy because that long ago forgotten petition is often the key to obtaining a greencard for someone who would otherwise have no hope. Generally, obtaining your greencard under this law will require you to pay an additional fee of $1,000.00, a small price to pay for legalizing your status. INA 245(i) is a complex law with numerous components so if think you might qualify please contact one of our offices. If you apply for your greencard without actually being eligible you could be placed in removal (deportation) proceedings so it is best to consult with us to ensure eligibility.
The New Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver
A second way to obtain lawful permanent residency after having entered the U.S. illegally concerns the new provisional unlawful presence waiver which came into effect in March of this year. If you entered the U.S. illegally and you are the immediate relative of a U.S. Citizen you may be able to apply for a waiver which would allow you, after approval of the waiver, to return to your home country for the purpose of your interview and return with your immigrant visa. Unlike with INA 245(i), discussed above, you will have to depart from the U.S. but your time abroad should not be too lengthy.
Ranchod Law has filed numerous unlawful presence waivers and we can help you too. Contact us for an appointment, you may be eligible for this form of relief.