Scary Time for Immigrants . . . But There May Be A Solution

dreamstime_s_79499369President Trump’s words and proposed actions are terrifying to many people in the U.S.  There are large numbers of people who are scared that they will be put in jail or deported because of their lack of valid immigration status.  There are also many other people who are fearful of what may happen to their friends and family members.

An obvious solution for those potentially affected by President Trump’s potential changes to immigration enforcement is to withdraw from society.  Stay inside, change your job, and maybe even move to a new place.  But this is NOT the best thing to do.   It is time to resolve your immigration situation once and for all.   Speak with an immigration attorney and explore all potential options to improving your legal status in this country.  A knowledgeable immigration attorney will be able to explain your options, discuss the benefits and risks involved, as well as the probability of success.  There may very well be a solution for you about which you are unaware.

There are many ways of obtaining lawful status in the U.S.  Some are common and well known while others are a little more specialized.   Perhaps you are eligible for a green card based on a family relationship, based on a petition from an employer, or based on your fear of returning to your native country.  There are also more unique ways, such as being the victim of a crime or assisting law enforcement in investigating a crime.

One of the more common ways to obtain a green card right now is through a Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver.  A Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver helps intending immigrants who are ineligible to be granted permanent resident status in the U.S., but would be subjected to a 3 or 10-year unlawful presence bar upon leaving the United States.  A person is potentially eligible for a Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver regardless of who filed the petition on their behalf (spouse, parent, employer, etc.).  The applicant can submit their request for a waiver before they ever leave the U.S.  They are also allowed to remain in the U.S. until their waiver has been approved.  This pre-approved waiver avoids lengthy separation of family members, as the applicant would hopefully be able to return to the U.S. within a matter of days.

Another potential option may be available to those who have unfortunately been the victim of abuse by a loved one.  The “Violence Against Women Act” (“VAWA”) is a way for victims of physical or emotional abuse to be granted permanent resident status in the U.S.  It allows men or women to file a petition for themselves without any assistance from their abusive spouse, children or parents.  Since it is a self-petition, it allows the victim to immediately seek both safety and independence from their abuser.  The abuser will not be notified about the self-petition.

Yet another potential option is Cancellation of Removal for Non-Permanent Residents.  This allows qualified individuals to obtain a green card if they have lived in the U.S. for at least ten years, have good moral character, and can show that their U.S. citizen, or Lawful Permanent Resident parent, spouse or child would suffer exceptional and extremely unusual hardship if the applicant were forced to leave the United States.  Applicants are eligible to obtain employment authorization as soon as their application is filed.

Finally, current permanent residents should seriously consider becoming U.S. citizens.  It is true that having a green card is a wonderful thing, but it does not carry with it the rights of U.S. citizenship, such as unlimited travel and the ability to vote.  As we have seen over the last several weeks with potential travel bans to nationals of certain countries or to those with certain religious beliefs, the rights of U.S. citizenship have potentially never been more valuable.

It is a very uncertain time for immigrants and their beloved family members.  Nobody knows for sure what laws will be changed or when.  Ignoring your problems will not make them go away.  Act now by resolving your immigration status today.  Consult an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney about applying for a green card or becoming a U.S. citizen.