By Attorneys Robert L. Reeves and Katherine L. Curtis

As 2009 begins, most of us wonder just what will the new year bring and how will our lives change.  For many aliens in the U.S., one single question is on the mind more than any other: what will be my immigration status in 2009? 

There is reason to be hopeful that a new President will bring about immigration reform.  This is especially true because President-Elect Barack Obama has set up a blueprint for change that includes “bringing people out of the shadows.”  However, positive immigration legislation may not happen immediately, and it is important for those with immigration problems to seek to improve their immigration status under current laws. 

Many events may improve an individual’s immigration status if they are here without documentation: marriage to a permanent resident or US citizen or U.S. citizen children turning twenty-one.  These events may render someone eligible to obtain residence in the U.S. where they were not eligible before. 

Aliens present in the U.S. who had criminal or immigration problems in the past might be eligible for certain forms of relief. These individuals may unnecessarily be living in fear that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will take away their green cards and deport them or that they will never be able to obtain a green card because of their problems.  However, not every conviction or problem with US authorities will result in deportation or preclude people from obtaining a green card.  An individual may be able to prevail in deportation court, obtain lawful permanent residence, or obtain waivers despite their problems.

Aliens may be able to overcome past misrepresentations they made when entering the United States as lawful permanent residents or as visitors and bring their family together despite these misrepresentations.  There are waivers available for individuals who misrepresented their marital status when they became lawful permanent residents (by saying they were unmarried when they are married).  These waivers allow those individuals to correct problems in their immigration status so that they can naturalize and eventually obtain immigrant visas for their family.  In addition, those who entered the U.S. as visitors under a false name or with false documentation may be eligible for waivers in order to obtain lawful permanent residence through a spouse or parent. 

There are many possibilities under current laws for resolving immigration problems in the United States and to assure family reunification.  Exploring one’s immigration status with an experienced immigration attorney should be among the resolutions for 2009. We at Reeves & Associates wish you and your family a happy and healthy new year.