For undocumented immigrants in the United States, life can be difficult. The stakes are high. Getting caught means a likely removal (deportation) from the United States. But it also may break apart a family, disrupt the family’s finances, and result in stiffer immigration penalties. Currently, there is no extensive amnesty program like President Reagan introduced in 1986, but there are a variety of smaller programs that offer paths to legal status for certain undocumented immigrants.
For undocumented immigrants, the clear goal is a path to a long-term legal status. These paths to legal status lead to permanent residence (green card) and U.S. citizenship. Certain immigrants with no legal status may have some paths available. This article covers those options and who could qualify for them.
In this article, the term “undocumented” immigrant is used to describe an immigrant without any legal immigration status. No status maybe the result of entering the United States without inspection or entering via a legal non-immigrant visa (e.g. tourist visa, student visa) that has since expired. The term “entered without inspection” or EWI is used to specifically describe someone that has come across the border and never interacted with a U.S. border agent.
Although there are approximately 650,000 childhood arrivals protected by the DACA program, this is not a lawful immigration status. It is a temporary solution and provides extremely limited opportunities for the beneficiaries. DACA recipients need paths to legal status like any other undocumented individual. Although not everyone will qualify for these paths, they are worth learning about:
- Green Card through Marriage to a U.S. Citizen or LPR
- DREAMers Green Card through Employment with LIFE Act Protection
- Asylum Status
- U Visa for Victims of Crime
Permanent Residence (Green Card) through Marriage to a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident
One of the most common questions, and most common paths to legal status, is the treatment of an immigrant without legal status when he or she marries a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.
For the immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen, obtaining a green card may be a fairly straight forward process. In fact, a lawyer may not even be necessary. For all others, the process gets complicated. But it may be a viable path to legal status.
The above site is not an official one but it has information for those who are seeking informaiton in the current enviroment.