Many immigrants face a complex dilemma: They qualify for a US green card but also have a history of “unlawful presence” in the country. This creates a catch-22 situation. If they leave the US for a required consular interview, they risk being banned from reentry due to their previous illegal stay.
This is where the I-601A waiver, also known as a “provisional” or “stateside” waiver, comes into play as a potential solution to this problem.
In these situations, the expertise of a green card lawyer in New York can be incredibly helpful. They can assist you in compiling the necessary documentation to prove your eligibility, guide you through the intricacies of immigration law, and represent you in dealings with USCIS.
Additionally, an experienced green card lawyer in New York can help you understand the risks and benefits of leaving the US for a consular interview and potentially advise you on alternative routes you may not have considered.
How the I-601A waiver addresses grounds of inadmissibility
Various factors can obstruct an immigrant from securing a green card. Among these are criminal activities, fraudulent actions, prior immigration violations, health concerns, and even the possibility of becoming a financial drain on public resources. These are officially termed “grounds of inadmissibility.”
The I-601A waiver specifically tackles one of these roadblocks: unlawful presence. For individuals who find unlawful presence as their main obstacle in obtaining a green card, this waiver is a crucial tool.
Understanding what constitutes unlawful presence
US immigration law considers several scenarios as unlawful presence:
- Entry into the US without official authorization or parole
- Overstaying beyond the duration that was initially approved
- Violation of non-immigrant visa conditions
If any of these conditions apply to your situation, then you’re accumulating unlawful presence. It’s crucial to be aware of this status as it has repercussions for your immigration journey.
For those who enter the US through legal channels, an I-94 arrival/departure record is typically provided, specifying the period your stay is considered lawful. Be sure to consult this document to understand when your lawful status will expire.
Consequences of unlawful presence and exceptions
The penalties for unlawful presence can be severe and long-lasting:
- A 3-year reentry ban for 180 days to less than one year of unlawful presence
- A 10-year ban for one year or more of unlawful presence
- Permanent inadmissibility for multiple periods of unlawful presence that cumulatively exceed one year
However, there are exceptions to these penalties:
- Asylum seekers with ongoing applications do not accrue unlawful presence.
- Minors under the age of 18 also do not accrue unlawful presence in the eyes of US immigration law. This means they won’t trigger the 3-year or 10-year bans for unlawful presence, even if they have overstayed a visa or entered without inspection.
- Beneficiaries of the Family Unity program, under certain conditions, are also exempt from accruing unlawful presence. This program aims to keep families together while members go through the legal immigration process.
- Victims of domestic violence and human trafficking have some protections under US law, including potential exemptions from the 3-year and 10-year reentry bans. These exceptions often require additional documentation and can be complex to navigate.
It’s worth noting that certain relatives of US citizens—including spouses, parents, and unmarried children under 21—may qualify for a green card without leaving the US, thus avoiding 3-year or 10-year reentry bans for unlawful presence. However, this option is not available for relatives of permanent residents. Additionally, other grounds of inadmissibility, like criminal history or fraud, may still apply. Eligibility can also be influenced by the manner of initial entry into the U.S. and is not guaranteed.
The value of expert legal advice
Given the complexity and high stakes involved, hiring a green card lawyer in New York can prove invaluable. With the help of a green card lawyer in New York, you can better understand your circumstances and available options. This becomes especially crucial when you have issues such as unlawful presence that could bar you from obtaining a green card.
Take the next step.
Are you facing obstacles in your quest for a green card due to unlawful presence or other grounds of inadmissibility? Don’t navigate these complex waters alone. Berd & Klauss, PLLC is a full-service immigration firm specializing in helping individuals and families overcome hurdles to US immigration.
Contact a green card lawyer in New York at Berd & Klauss to assess your eligibility for an I-601A waiver or other immigration options and take control of your future today.