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How to get illegal immigration status in the USA: all the ways

Living as an illegal in the United States can be difficult. The stakes are high. Risks mean a possible possible expulsion (deportation) from the United States. This can destroy the family, its financial situation, lead to immigration fines, writes CitizenPath.

Photo: Shutterstock

The United States does not have an extensive amnesty program like Reagan introduced in 1986, but there are many smaller programs that offer paths to legal status for certain undocumented immigrants.

The obvious goal for illegal immigrants is to obtain long-term legal status, which will lead to the right of permanent residence (green card) and US citizenship. This article examines legalization options and lists the categories of immigrants who can apply for them.

Who is an illegal? Typically, this is a foreigner in the United States without legal immigration status. Lack of status can be the result of entering the United States without verification or on a legitimate nonimmigrant visa (e.g., tourist, student) that has expired. Although the DACA program protects about 650 immigrants who enter the United States as children, they are not legal. This is a temporary solution that provides the beneficiaries with extremely limited options. What are the ways?

Permanent residence (green card) as a result of marriage

One of the most common paths to legal status is through marriage with a US citizen or lawful permanent resident. For the immediate family of a US citizen, obtaining a green card can be quite a simple process. You might not even need a lawyer. For everyone else, the process gets more complicated. But that could be a real path to legal status.

It is important to understand that only a spouse, parent, or child (under the age of 21) is a U.S. citizen's immediate family member. Provided that the next of kin has legally entered the United States, you can change your status to a permanent resident (apply for a green card) while in the United States. A person without immigration status had to enter the United States with valid documents and personally contact a US immigration officer, and that officer had to confirm the person's entry into the United States.

Thus, a person who has expired a visa and then married a US citizen can usually get a green card through a change of status. It doesn't matter if the visa is overdue by 6 months or 6 years, an undocumented closest relative has the opportunity to apply for a green card.

On the subject: Fast and without trial: ICE will deport even more illegal immigrants

Traditionally, it has always been possible for an undocumented spouse and her or his own dependent children to obtain permanent resident status through marriage to a US citizen or permanent resident. However, the reality is that the immigration process is not always easy. By law, if a foreign spouse and children or stepchildren entered the United States without verification and remained, they must leave the country and complete the immigration process through the US consulates abroad in order to obtain an immigration visa (green card). This is even more important if the immigrant spouse and / or children over the age of 18 live in the United States.

In many cases, these people may be eligible and apply for waiver of 3- and 10-year restrictions if they can demonstrate that their absence from the United States will cause "extraordinary and unusual hardship" for a US citizen or legal spouse (parent) - permanent resident. In the recent past, the procedure required a person to first leave the United States and apply from his or her country of origin. This was an expensive and very unreliable process. It's now easier: there is a “temporary” waiver available that can be filed and received while the applicant is still in the United States. This gives people some degree of confidence that, once approved, they will be able to return to the United States after a successful consular interview. The program applies to spouses and children of undocumented US citizens.

“Extraordinary and Unusual Difficulties” may include: family ties to the United States and the country of removal, conditions in the country of removal, age of the United States citizen or resident spouse or parent, length of residence in the United States, relevant medical and mental health conditions, financial and educational difficulties.

Applicants should remember that this must be a bona fide (real) marriage to a US citizen and that all previous marriages must be legally terminated. Fraud in marriage (fictitious marriage to obtain a green card) carries severe penalties that can even lead to a felony conviction of a US citizen.

Dreamer's Green Card

There are situations when “dreamers” who have had the opportunity to get higher education become candidates for more qualified jobs. In this scenario, US employers may be interested in sponsoring a green card for a promising highly skilled worker. However, even if the “dreamer” is protected by the DACA, he may need 245 (i) protection under the Legal Family Immigration Equality Act (LIFE).

In many cases, undocumented immigrants, especially well-educated “dreamers”, can find an employer willing to sponsor a green card. In some cases, the employer will have to go through a procedure known as labor certification or PERM. However, even after such processes are successfully completed, the process still requires the immigrant to return to their home country due to the initial illegal entry or lack of status. However, if a person has 245 (i) protection, he / she can complete the process in the US and receive a green card without leaving.

LIFE is a law that allows illegal immigrants to complete the process of obtaining a green card in the United States if an immigrant's petition was filed on his behalf or on behalf of his parents before April 30, 2001 or earlier. This is a simplified representation of the law and many additional requirements must be met.

Asylum status

Asylum status is available to anyone in the United States who has suffered persecution in their home country or who has a well-founded fear of persecution if they return to that country. It is important to understand that the persecution must be carried out by a government or a group that the government does not want or cannot control.

In US immigration law, prosecution is fairly well defined. Most importantly, the persecution must be based on one of the following five groups: race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.

In general, the right to asylum requires that:

  • the person was in the United States (entered legally or illegally);
  • was unable or unwilling to return to his country because of past persecution or had a well-founded fear that, if returned, would face future persecution;
  • the reason for the persecution was related to one of 5 factors: race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion;
  • did not participate in activities that would prevent them from obtaining asylum.

To begin an asylum case, you must complete Form I-589, Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal, along with evidence supporting the application. A screening interview is usually conducted to ensure that the applicant's case is substantiated. Asylum seekers have the right to apply for permanent resident status (green card) after one year. The spouse and children of an asylum seeker are also eligible to apply for a green card if they have been accepted into the United States as asylum seekers.

On the subject: Federal court ruled the arrests of illegal immigrants unconstitutional: what does it mean

U-visa for victims of crime

In 2000, the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act created the U visa to protect non-citizens who were victims of certain crimes and helped law enforcement. A visa provides a legal status, a work permit, and in some cases it can provide an opportunity to obtain a permanent resident status (green card).

There are four requirements for obtaining a U visa:

  • the person has been subjected to serious physical or psychological violence as a result of qualifying criminal activity;
  • the person must have information about criminal activity;
  • criminal activity violated US laws;
  • the person should have helped, assisted or may be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of crimes.

Criminal activity qualifying for a U visa includes, but is not limited to:

  • abduction;
  • abusive sexual contact;
  • blackmail;
  • domestic violence;
  • extortion;
  • illegal detention;
  • female genital mutilation;
  • criminal assault;
  • taking hostages;
  • incest;
  • forced slavery;
  • abduction;
  • manslaughter;
  • murder;
  • obstruction of justice;
  • espionage;
  • perjury;
  • prostitution;
  • rape;
  • sexual assault;
  • sexual exploitation;
  • slave trade;
  • torture
  • human trafficking;
  • evidence of falsification;
  • illegal criminal prosecution;
  • other related crimes.

A supporting statement (Appendix B to Form I-918) from law enforcement is required to apply for a U visa. In some areas, non-law enforcement officials (such as a judge or child protection services) may provide a supporting statement. The same visa may be provided for family members (spouse and children).

Cancellation of expulsion for illegal immigrants

The latter option of protection against deportation may be available to certain undocumented persons who have resided in the United States for a long time and who are subject to expulsion proceedings. You can obtain legal status and a green card through the cancellation of removal procedure for those who are not legal residents.

To be eligible for cancellation, you must meet all of the following requirements:

  • live and permanently be physically in the United States for at least 10 years;
  • eviction (deportation) from the United States will cause "exceptional and extremely unusual hardship" for a spouse, child, or parent - a US citizen or resident;
  • show that you have good moral character over the past 10 years;
  • not to be convicted of certain crimes, not to violate certain laws.

This benefit cannot be selected in advance; it is only available to those facing expulsion at an immigration court. Fulfillment of all of the above requirements is only the minimum criteria. In accordance with this law, there is also a limit of 4000 green cards that are issued annually.

Even if none of the above-mentioned legalization methods suits you, there is reason for optimism. The 2020 presidential election could bring change. Immigration advocates are pushing for legislative changes that will provide assistance to illegal immigrants already in the United States and making a positive contribution to the country's economy.

Read also on ForumDaily:

545 migrant children lost their parents to family separation policies at the US border

US presidential election: what candidates promise immigrants

How the green card appeared in the USA, and what the authorities did to protect the document from counterfeiting

California court forces ICE to release hundreds of criminal immigrants

Miscellaneous In the U.S. illegals legalization deportation of illegal immigrants Immigration in the USA
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