Can I get a Green Card in the U.S. if I’m married to a U.S. Citizen but entered illegally or without Inspection?
A person that enters the country illegally cannot adjust their status (get a green card or apply for permanent residency) in the U.S. based on the current law if the basis is marriage to a U.S. citizen. (There is a limited exception which I will not discuss in this article.) Such persons can only get a green card or permanent residency through consular processing. What this essentially means is that such a person would need to leave the country and get their immigrant visa (green card) at a U.S. consulate outside the country. However, a huge problem was that such persons would not be able to get a green card without a waiver of the unlawful presence bar. Essentially anyone who has been in the U.S. unlawfully present for 180 days or more is barred from re-entering for 3 years. If unlawfully present for 1 year or more, then the bar is 10 years!!! Such individuals could apply for a waiver of the bar (meaning a pardon or for forgiveness) if they could prove that a qualifying relative such as a U.S. Citizen spouse or parent would suffer an extreme hardship if the waiver is not granted. The problem was that the person would first have to leave the country and then apply for the waiver. So, if the waiver were to be denied, the person would be stuck outside the U.S.. In addition, even if the waiver would be granted, it may take many months or even years before the decision,and throughout all that time, the person would be separated from their loved ones here in the U.S.
Immigration just announced a new Provisional Waiver (I-601A Waiver) that will be available March 4, 2013. So, starting that day, persons who otherwise qualify can apply for the waiver while in the U.S. . So, anyone that was afraid to leave the country to apply for the waiver (which made perfect sense), can now do so while in the U.S. Naturally, the person would still have to be able to prove that their qualifying relative would suffer an extreme hardship if the waiver is denied. However, with the right representation and facts, getting a waiver is certainly possible. In Brooklyn, New York City for example, we have had many clients who entered illegally or without inspection and now are married to a U.S. citizen and would like to file for a green card without risking being stuck outside the country for an extended period of time. So, I’m pleased to inform those people that a new avenue is available.