Brooklyn, New York (PRWEB) January 31, 2013
On January 29, 2013 President Obama during his visit to Del Sol Las Vegas High School gave an inspiring speech on comprehensive immigration reform. The President specifically addressed the issue of 11 million undocumented immigrants who contribute to the U.S. economy on a daily basis, help building our lives, and who are often taken advantage of. The President emphasized that his Immigration reform plan includes pathway to citizenship for these millions of undocumented workers.
But before the reform is implemented, what choices, if any, somebody who came to the United States by crossing the border has? Here are the most common current pathways to a green card for those who entered without inspection:
1. Applying for Asylum, Withholding of Removal and/or Relief under Convention against Torture (the issue: an applicant has to prove that he/she qualifies for the relief sought and an application for asylum has to be submitted, in most cases, within one year of the applicant’s last arrival to the U.S.);
2. Applying for relief under Violence Against Women Act (the issue: applicant has to convince the immigration that he/she was a victim of domestic violence, plus there are time restrictions and limitations on qualifying relationship);
3. Qualifying for Cancellation of Removal (the issue: the person has to be placed in the Immigration Court proceedings; has to reside in the U.S. for no less than ten years and have a qualified relative);
4. Applying for a U visa (for victims of crimes) with a waiver (the challenge: there is a numerical limitation on the number of visas available each year; not every crime qualifies; and a law enforcement officer or a judge has to sign the form in support of the application).
The examples above do not take into consideration possible complications relating to criminal convictions, prior order(s) of removal, and /or multiple entries without inspection. Also, marriage to a US citizen does not help somebody who entered the U.S. without inspection because the non -citizen has to leave the country in order to be able to obtain an immigrant visa leading to a green card. However, from March 4, 2013 the new I-601A provisional waiver will help immediate relatives of the U.S. citizens who can demonstrate extreme hardship to the qualified relative by allowing them to apply and wait for the decision on waiver in the United States. The applicant would still have to leave the country to receive their immigrant visa, even if the provisional waiver is granted.
Looking at these examples, it is clear that the reform should address possibility of adjustment of status (getting a green card) for those who entered without inspection and married a U.S. citizen, and/or found an employer who is willing to hire them. It should also include those who has simply overstayed their visas, but worked and paid taxes for a significant amount of time.
Finally, it is understandable that each of the eleven million persons has a unique situation and it is impossible to tailor the laws to satisfy each and every case. But it is possible to implement fair principles that will allow non-citizens to remedy their missteps and live without fear of being deported.
New York Immigration attorney Alena Shautsova is a principal at the Law Office of Alena Shautsova, a full service Immigration Law Firm in Brooklyn, New York. The author can be reached through http://www.shautsova.com and encourages her readers to contact her with questions.