The question my clients have been asking over and over for the past few weeks is this: I am out of status or entered without inspection, what do I do now?
A person becomes out of status if they legally entered the United States with proper inspection (like a tourist visa), and then overstayed their authorized duration of stay. An individual who is out of status is considered an illegal alien and can be deported at any time.
A person who entered without inspection, is a person who enters the United States through any point of entry (like the border) and fails to get inspected by Customs and Border Patrol. Those who enter without inspection are considered illegal aliens and can be deported at any time just like a person who is out of status.
Whether a person overstayed a visa or entered without inspection, most people do so with the hope that they will be able to adjust to a legal status after the fact. This is not as easy as it sounds, and in many cases the overstay will ruin their eligibility to adjust to a legal status.
In the case of a person who enters without status, it is likely to bar them from ever adjusting status inside the US (unless current immigration laws change). However, a person who entered without inspection may seek a waiver and obtain a family visa through the US consulate in their country of birth.
How do you become a legal alien and avoid being deported? Of course, the answer to this question depends on the specific circumstances of the individual. Being married to a U.S. Citizen or having a prior family petition would provide a path to legal status, unless there are illegalities in the person's history or other bars against the adjustment of the individual's status.
If you are already in deportation proceedings an option would be cancellation of removal. This would be more likely for individuals who have been in the United States for very long periods of time. They may be married and have a family here. Assuming they have been here for over ten years, and have done nothing illegal, and have a U.S. Citizen relative who would experience a hardship due to their deportation, cancelation of removal is possible.
Whether you are currently out of status or entered without inspection, we can evaluate your case and determine whether you qualify to adjust status, obtain a visa through a US consulate or obtain a cancelation of deportation.
DISCLAIMER: The purpose of this article is for educational use only. The information contained in it does not constitute legal advice and an attorney-client relationship is not created by reading this post.
Christian Veras, Esq.