How to Fix Your Immigration Status After Entering the U.S. Illegally

There are different ways for people to enter a country without permission or illegally. If you are one of those people, here’s how you can fix your status and obtain a work permit and a green card.

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

A common way in which we have been able to help individuals obtain a green card is through the VAWA (Violence Against Women Act). VAWA means that the foreign national is married to an American citizen and is the victim of domestic violence, or they have a son or daughter who is a U.S. citizen and is also a victim of domestic violence. An immigration attorney can help the victim obtain legal status through VAWA, get a work permit, and later can apply for permanent residency.

Victim of a Crime

Another option to fix immigration status is by obtaining a U visa. A U visa means that the foreign national is a victim of a crime. It can be domestic violence or a crime that the person witnessed. They can either be a direct victim or indirect victim.

For example, a foreign national who works at a convenience store that gets burglarized may become the victim of that crime. If they report the crime to the police and assist the police in finding this criminal, they can obtain a U visa. Similarly, if they witness a crime and assist the police or prosecutor in pursuing these criminals, then this individual may qualify for a U visa. U visa certification does take a little bit more time than VAWA. Nonetheless, they can apply for a work permit and obtain a green card status later.

Filing for Asylum

Individuals who come to the U.S., even if they entered illegally or without permission, can still file for asylum. Filing for asylum, even if the application is pending approval, allows foreign nationals to apply for a work permit. And if they are successful at the Immigration Asylum office stage, they can obtain a green card eventually through asylum.

Obtain Legal Status in the U.S. Through a Family Member

The fourth and final option is through the family. This option is a little bit more complicated. If a foreign national marries a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident, they can obtain residency through a detailed process. First, they would need to file here in the United States, then complete a waiver, and finally, they would need to obtain their immigrant visa stamp and passport in their home country. It is a bit more complicated and something we would certainly be happy to explain if you would like to speak with us.

An Experienced Immigration Lawyer Can Help You Through the Process

If you have any questions about the steps to obtain legal status in the U.S. or would like to learn more about whether you or a family member or a friend may qualify, contact our office at Luis F. Hess, PLLC to schedule a confidential consultation today.