Did you enter the country without a visa? The good news is that you may be able to get your green card! Lively Law Firm has successfully obtained green cards for many people in your exact same situation.
In 2013 the Department of Homeland Security issued a new regulation that allows immediate family members of U.S. Citizens who entered the United States without a visa to apply for a waiver (called a 601A waiver) while they are in the United States.
What does that mean?
It means that if you meet the necessary criteria you will be able to apply for and obtain your green card and only have to depart the United States for a week or less. It also means that you do not have to depart the United States until your waiver is approved. You can continue to live in the United States, support your family, and only leave once you are sure that your waiver has been approved.
How do I qualify for the 601A Waiver?
If you meet the following criteria you are eligible to submit a 601A waiver:
- You are physically present in the United States;
- You are at least 17 years of age at the time of filing;
- You have an immigrant visa case pending with the Department of States (this usually means that you have submitted Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative and it has been approved. If you haven’t submitted your Form I-130 — don’t worry! Lively Law Firm can submit your Form I-130 for you);
- You have a U.S. Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident spouse or parents; and
- Your family members would suffer hardship if you were forced to depart the United States and wait ten years to come back in.
How does it work exactly?
Immigration law is complex and each case is unique — just as your family is unique. But, generally speaking this is how you apply for a 601A waiver. You will first file your marriage petition (Form I-130). You will need to prove to USCIS that your marriage is legitimate. This involves submitting your birth certificates, marriage certificates, and an interview with USCIS. Processing times can vary based on location and backlog of USCIS but typically this step takes about 6-9 months. Once the petition is approved you move on to the second stage.
The second stage is preparing and submitting your 601A waiver. To prepare this waiver Lively Law Firm needs to get to know you and your family. Part of this process is to discuss with you and your family any hardship that they would suffer in the following categories:
- Mental Health
- Family History
- Professional Development
- Country Specific Concerns
Lively Law Firm will then create a unique document checklist for you and your family. We will need to gather as many documents as necessary to tell the story of you and your family. We then submit the waiver to USCIS. Processing times can vary but are generally very long. The typical processing time for an approval is one (1) year. During this time, you continue to live with your family in the United States.
Lastly, once the 601A waiver is approved — remember, if it isn’t approved you don’t have to leave the United States! You will be scheduled for an interview at the consulate in your country. You depart the United States, obtain a medical exam in your home country, attend your interview, and return to the United States. Typically, clients are outside of the United States for no more than one (1) week.
Once you enter the United States your green card is mailed to you and you are now a Legal Permanent Resident!
What happens if I’m denied?
If you are denied you do not have to leave the United States. You can try again! The best part of the 601A waiver is that if you are denied you do not receive a deportation order. Lively Law Firm has had a lot of success with these types of waivers but it is possible to receive a denial.
If you get denied, we simply gather more documentation and resubmit your waiver. It prolongs the process but does not mean you won’t get your green card still.
Do I qualify for the 601A waiver if I’m in removal proceedings?
If you have a case before the Immigration Court in North Carolina you can still apply for the 601A waiver. There is just an extra step. You have to apply for something that’s called “administrative closure.” If the court grants this administrative closure you proceed to submit your 601A waiver just like if you were not in removal proceedings.
This type of case can involve a lot of expertise and experience in front of the Immigration Court. You should not do this alone. Getting an experienced immigration attorney could be the difference between a deportation order (and years away from your family) or a green card (and only one week away from your family). The investment is worth it!
How should you prepare?
If you meet the above listed requirements you are eligible for a 601A waiver now! Contact Lively Law Firm so we can get started immediately. As you read above, the process is much simpler if you are not in removal proceedings so you want to apply before you have any contact without ICE.
If you are in removal proceedings already you need to request that the Court administratively close your case as soon as possible. Court won’t wait forever and you need to take action!
You should gather basic biographical documents and any proof of hardship that your family may experience if you are forced to wait outside the United States for ten years.
If you or a loved one believe that you may qualify for a 601A waiver please call or send a text message to Lively Law Firm for a free consultation at 980-250-5173. Start your path to a green card today!
Ashley Lively started Lively Law Firm in February 2019 after working for nearly a decade in immigration law. She started her own firm because she wanted a law firm that focused on client experience and had a culture of accepting every case — even the difficult ones.
Lively Law Firm represents clients in all types of immigration proceedings. Many of Ashley’s clients have sacrificed their time, money, and energy to come to the United States in search of a better life and opportunities for themselves and their families. Because of the great sacrifices of our clients we look for every possible avenue to allow them to get immigration status in the United States.
Many people qualify for a visa or a green card but don’t know it. Below are some of the most common ways that people can qualify for immigration status.
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
- What is VAWA?
Under VAWA, any person — man or woman — who is a victim of domestic violence, child abuse, or elder abuse may submit a green card application without the help of a spouse, parent, or adult child.
- Do I Qualify?
You qualify for VAWA if your spouse, former spouse, or adult child –who is a legal permanent resident or a US citizen — abused you in the past or is currently abusing you. This abuse does not have to be physical. The abuse can be mental, emotional, or financial. If your loved one wouldn’t allow you to leave the house without their permission, threatened to call ICe on you, or didn’t allow you to have your own bank account you likely qualify for VAWA.
You can qualify for VAWA if you are not in immigration court or even if you ARE in immigration court.
- What Do I Get?
When your VAWA application is approved you are able to receive your green card.
You can qualify for a green card even if you entered the country without a visa, have a criminal record, have an immigration record, or overstayed your visa. The best part is you don’t have to leave the country to get your green card.
- What is a T Visa?
The T visa was created to provide immigration status to people who were victims of severe forms of human trafficking. Trafficking is defined as sex trafficking or labor trafficking that was induced by fraud, force, or coercion.
- Do I Qualify?
Many people do not think they are victims of trafficking. However, trafficking is more common than what many people believe. Trafficking can look like entering on a work visa and then your employer does not pay you the agreed upon amount and threatens to call ICE on you if you report him or leave. Trafficking can look like entering without a visa but bringing in a backpack full of unidentified items because your coyote told you that if you didn’t they would harm you. Trafficking can also look like your coyote making you enter the United States with a child that is not yours and telling you that you must say they are your child or else they will leave you in the desert. Many other scenarios can be trafficking and you should speak to an attorney to determine if you qualify.
- What Do I Get?
T visas are valid for four years. However, after three years of physical presence in the United States and continuing to cooperate with law enforcement you can apply for your residency.
You can also apply for parents, spouses, and siblings as a recipient of a T visa.
- What is a U Visa?
The U visa was created in 2000 to protect certain noncitizen crime victims who assist or are willing to assist in the investigation or prosecution of a criminal office.
- Do I Qualify?
If you are someone who was the victim of a crime and you suffered physical or mental harm, you have information concerning the criminal activity, there is a police report, and you have been helpful or are willing to be helpful to the police you may qualify for a U visa.
You do not need to be in lawful immigraiton status to apply for a U visa. You can apply for a U visa if you have a criminal record. You can apply for a U visa if you have a deportation order.
- What Do I Get?
One your U visa is approved you can have U visa status for up to four years. That visa may be extended if the police confirm that you still need to stay in the United States to assist with the investigation.
However, after three years of continuous presence in the US, a U visa holder can apply for their green card. You can also include your spouse and children on your application.
Military Parole in Place
- What is Military Parole in Place?
Military Parole in Place was created in 2013 to benefit family members of military personnel. This is a significant benefit that is generally not available to family members of civilians. It promotes family unity for those that serve our country.
- Do I Qualify?
To qualify for military parole in place you must be physically present in the United States, you must be the spouse, parent, child (regardless of age) of: an active duty member of the US armed forces, someone in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve, or someone who previously served in the US Armed Forces or the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve, and you cannot have a criminal conviction or other serious adverse factor.
- What Do I Get?
If approved you are granted immigration status — which allows you employment authorization and protection from deportation.
Importantly, it also allows you to apply for adjustment of status (green card) if someone in your family can submit a petitioner for you.
What if you don’t qualify for any of these reliefs?
You still may qualify for other relief and should contact Attorney Ashley to discuss your options. You may qualify under the automatic extension of TPS, you may qualify for an exception to the one year rule in applying for asylum, or you may qualify for a special immigrant juvenile visa. Call 980-250-5173 -all consultations are free and confidential.
What can you Do to Protect Yourself Right Now?
Lively Law Firm recommends that you create a “Protection Packet.” A protection packet is a packet that protects you from being deported without seeing a judge. If ICE arrests you and the immigration officer determines that there is not sufficient evidence to demonstrate you have been in the United States for long enough they can deport you without even allowing you to see a judge.
Lively Law Firm can create a packet that has proof of your presence in the United States ensuring that you have your case heard in front of a judge so you can stay in the United States while you fight your case.
If you or someone you love qualifies for one the options listed above call or text 980-250-5173 for a free consultation.
Unlawful Presence and I-601A Eligibility
For people who have entered the United States without permission or have overstayed their visa and accrued unlawful presence, the possibility of obtaining lawful permanent residence can be difficult. Generally, a person can obtain lawful permanent residence (green card) through employment-based sponsorship, family sponsorship through a U.S. Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident relative, or through certain limited special circumstances such as being a victim of a crime or being a victim of trafficking, among others.
For those that have accrued unlawful presence through overstaying their visa or entering the United States without permission there can be very serious immigration consequences depending on the amount of a time a person has been without status in the United States. A person who has accrued more than 180 days of unlawful presence in the United States, is subject to a 3-year bar that is automatically triggered once the person departs the United States. This bar would prevent a person from being readmitted into the United States or adjusting status within the prohibited period. Similarly, a person who has accrued one year or more of unlawful presence in the United States is subject to a 10 year bar which would also prevent a person from being readmitted to the United States or adjusting status and is triggered upon the person’s departure from the United States.
However, there is a waiver that is available that will “forgive” or “waive” the 3- or 10- year ban. This waiver, called the I-601A waiver may only be used if the applicant can prove that the 3- or 10-year bar would cause an “extreme hardship” to a qualifying relative. A qualifying relative for purposes of the I-601A waiver is a U.S. Citizen or LPR spouse or parent—United States Citizen children are not qualifying relatives for purposes of the I-601A waiver.
The I-601A waiver is a provisional approval of the unlawful presence waiver before having to depart the United States to attend the immigrant visa interview at the consulate in your home country. However, approval of the I-601A waiver does not guarantee the issuance of an immigrant visa and the ability to enter the United States lawfully after the consular interview. If at the time of the interview, you are found to be inadmissible on other grounds the provisional waiver could be revoked.
Attorney Ashley E. Lively has successfully obtained many I-601A waivers for clients. To determine whether you qualify for the I-601A waiver or are inadmissible under any other ground please contact Lively Law Firm for a free consultation.
State Department Issues Urgent Travel Advisory to All Americans Who Are in Venezuela
Following the current administration’s recognition of Juan Guaido as the rightful leader of Venezuela the U.S. State Department issued an urgent travel advisory to all Americans who are in Venezuela or plan to travel to Venezuela. The State Department warned that the U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Venezuela due to limited infrastructure and poor security conditions.
Although the recognition of Juan Guaido is seen as hopeful for some the situation in Venezuela is increasingly dangerous and unstable. Political rallies continue to occur and typically cause a strong police response that includes the use of tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber bullets against participants. If you are a citizen of Venezuela living in the United States this may be the time to consider a possible claim for asylum protection.
Attorney Ashley E. Lively has represented Venezuelan clients successfully in asylum proceedings and is well-informed as she lived and traveled in Venezuela after her undergraduate studies. If you fear persecution in the future or have suffered persecution in the past due to your political affiliation, employment, or family membership call Lively Law Firm for a free consultation today.
Why is My Immigration Petition Taking So Long?
Is your immigration petition taking longer than expected? A new policy brief published by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) that analyzes USCIS processing times may explain why. The brief reveals that the agency has reached “crisis” level delays in the processing of immigration petitions. These delays have worsened during the current administration. According to the report, the most vulnerable populations of these delays are—immigrant families (SIJS petitions), domestic abuse survivors (U visas), and persons seeking humanitarian aid (asylums).
The report finds that overall, average case processing time has increased by 46 percent over the past two fiscal years and 91 percent since Fiscal Year 2014. Additionally, the report finds that USCIS’s net backlog at the end of Fiscal Year 2017 was its highest on record. According to the report, decisions made under the current administration have exacerbated delays. For example, refugee case adjudications were overhauled; in-person interviews are now a requirement for employment-based green card applications and Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petitions; a new Notice to Appear (NTA) policy was put into place which resulted in individuals being put into deportation proceedings when their application was denied; and a policy of arresting spouses of United States citizens who appear at a USCIS office for an interview in connection with their Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, which if approved would form the basis for lawful permanent residence.
Now more than ever it is important to file your immigration petitions correctly as any error on your part could increase an already “crisis” level delay. Lively Law Firm can help you file your application correctly the first time and avoid unnecessary delay. Call now for your free consultation!