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4 Ways Undocumented Immigrants can Gain Legal Status
Many see illegal immigration into the US as the way to a better life. However, life can get difficult for undocumented immigrants. Each day, they run the risk of getting caught and facing removal proceedings from the United States. Deportation can lead to financial problems, family separation, and many other immigration issues.
The best way for illegal immigrants to prevent deportation is to obtain a long-term legal status. This can lead to migrants gaining permanent residency and becoming green card holders, and eventually, US citizenship.
In this article, we’ll cover the different options for undocumented immigrants to gain legal status so they can finally live their life without fleeing in fear of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). If you need help with American immigration laws, get in touch with our Greenville North Carolina immigration office. Our experienced attorneys with any immigration policy questions you may have!
Overview of Undocumented Immigrants
Undocumented immigrants are also referred to in other mediums as “illegal immigrants” or “illegal aliens.” You may also see the acronym “EWI” which stands for “Entered Without Inspection.” In general, whether alien, migrant, or illegal immigrant, all these terms refer to people who do not have legal immigration status. This can be due to:
- Entry into the US without going through inspection; or
- Entry using a visa like a student visa or tourist visa, but staying past the expiration.
Whether you got through border security legally but overstayed your visa, or snuck past border patrol to get to the United States, you count as an undocumented immigrant. Fortunately, this does not mean you have to evade immigration enforcement forever. For immigrants who are in the US illegally, there are four paths to obtain legal status.
Four Paths to Legal Status
U Visa for Victims of Crime
This option is for non-citizens who are victims of crime and who can help law enforcement. The U Visa can give employment authorization, legal status, and sometimes, the chance to get a green card.
To get a U Visa, there are four requirements, namely:
- You’ve suffered abuse from being a victim of the activity of a qualifying crime;
- You have information about the criminal activity;
- This activity violates the laws of The United States; and
- You can be helpful or helped solve and prosecute the crime.
Family members of a U Visa holder can be covered by the same U Visa. Under certain circumstances, you can get a U Visa for your children and spouse as long as your petition for them.
If you think your situation can qualify you for a U Visa, we recommend that you talk to our compassionate immigration lawyer. We’ll get you the help you need and get your legal status should you qualify. Contact our Greenville office now to get help with your issues of immigration!
Many asylum seekers head for the Land of the Free to experience the freedom they cannot have in their home country. If you qualify for asylum, you are given the right to stay in the US.
If you’re suffering from persecution or even just the fear of persecution, due to your religion, race, political opinion, nationality, or membership in a social group, you can get the help of our skilled Greenville immigration attorneys to apply for asylum. There usually is an interview to determine the validity of your case. The legal services of an immigration attorney can help get through that interview so you can qualify for asylum.
One year after receiving the asylum grant, asylees can apply for permanent resident status. If your children and spouses are also admitted as asylees, they can also apply for their green cards. Talk to our attorneys now to know more about granting asylum.
LIFE Act Protection
The Legal Immigration Family Equity (LIFE) Act gives DREAMERs additional benefits on top of the protection afforded to them under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
Undocumented immigrants, in particular well-educated DREAMers, may have an employer willing to sponsor them for a green card in a variety of situations. Before submitting for the prospective DREAMer’s employment visa petition, the employer may be required to go through a process called Labor Certification or PERM. However, even after such processes are completed, the process still requires the immigrant to return to his or her home country because of his or her original unlawful entry or out-of-status condition.
Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended by the LIFE Act lets certain immigrants complete the green card process if a petition was filed on or before April 30, 2001, on their parent’s behalf or their behalf.
Here’s an example of how this can work:
Let’s say you’re a DREAMer. If your maternal aunt, who’s a US citizen, files an immigrant petition (I-130) for your mother before April 30, 2001, this petition covers her daughters and sons, which includes you and your siblings.
Of course, this is all simplified for easier digestion. There may be other requirements you have to meet depending on your case. Talk to our knowledgeable immigration attorney to see if this fits your situation and what other options are available to you.
Green Card via Marriage
Marriage to a US citizen is the most common way for an immigrant to gain legal status, whether they were a legal immigrant who overstayed their welcome or an immigrant who entered illegally and dodged border protection. This is because a spouse counts as an immediate relative of a US citizen, who can get a green card somewhat easily. Other categories may face more complicated procedures.
Only the following people count as an immediate relative of a US citizen:
- Child under the age of 21.
As long as the foreign-born immediate relative entered the country lawfully, they can easily undergo an adjustment of status to a permanent resident. This means that if an undocumented immediate relative goes into the US with legal documentation, faces the immigration officer, and has them acknowledge their entry, then they can apply for a green card. After you become a permanent resident, you can eventually apply for citizenship. Ask our immigration attorney today to know-how!
Cancellation of Removal in Immigration Court
If you’re placed in removal proceedings and facing imminent deportation, there may be a way for you to gain legal status.
You and your lawyer have to prove to the immigration judge that:
- You have been in the US physically for 10 years or more;
- During that period, you’ve been a person of good moral character;
- If you get removed from the country, then it would cause hardship for your immediate relatives (given that they are permanent residents or US citizens);
- You aren’t disqualified from cancellation from violation of certain laws or conviction due to certain crimes.
This is the one path where you need the services of an immigration lawyer. You’ll be facing removal proceedings, not to mention there’s a limited allotment of green cards under this law. If you do not meet the requirements or you do not get the help of a skilled attorney, it may be difficult to come up with a defense against deportation.
All immigrants in the US have the right to a comfortable life. Illegal entry into our country does not disqualify you from your immigrant rights. If you’re an undocumented worker or an unauthorized immigrant looking to live a better life in the US, talk to our experienced Greenville immigration attorneys at the law offices of Diener Law.
We’ve helped many immigrants, including immigrant families and children of immigrants, get legal status. We can help you on your path to citizenship so you can live life comfortably after your immigration into the United States. What are you waiting for? For immigration solutions, call our Greenville NC immigration law firm today!