By Robert L. Reeves. & Nancy E. Miller

Will 2007 be the year in which you look your immigration problem in the eye and take the necessary steps to solve it? Will you seek the expert help you need to determine whether you are eligible today to join those who have legalized their status and are no longer afraid of a knock on the door that threatens to separate you from your loved ones?

Maybe you came into the U.S. without documents and have stayed and built a life here. Maybe you came with a visa that has long since expired but you married and had children and have a good job and work hard. Maybe you came with a green card but you misrepresented your name or marital status in order to get that status. Your family is back home and you want to be able to bring them here but are afraid to file anything for them. Maybe you would like to naturalize but are afraid to file because of a long ago criminal conviction.

These and other problems weigh heavily over the years. The non-citizen knows he should do something to deal with the problem but does not know what to do or thinks nothing can be done. Moreover, he is afraid to take any steps to solve the problem because he might make matters worse and wind up with a deportation order. Immigration officials might come knocking on his door to execute an old deportation order and take him into custody.

The concerns are valid. Complicated problems require expertise in order to not make matters worse. That is why someone with a serious immigration problem (and most immigration problems are serious) should consult a knowledgeable and experienced immigration lawyer. An immigration law expert will be able to tell the non-citizen what, if anything, can be done. Equally important, the immigration professional will be able (and should be willing) to tell the person when it might be better to wait for positive developments in the law. Most importantly, a good immigration lawyer will insure that the appropriate applications, petitions and requests are skillfully drafted to give the best chance for success. We find that there is a solution available for most immigration problems.

A person who gave a false marital status (or other non-true information) in order to obtain a green card may be eligible for a waiver of that misrepresentation. If he has a parent, spouse, son or daughter who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and she can show that she has more favorable than unfavorable aspects to her case, he may be able to keep his green card. This is true even if the misrepresentation involved a fraudulent marriage – as long as the family relationship relied on for the waiver is not a result of the fraudulent marriage. These waivers must be sought in Immigration Court and the Immigration Judge has specific criteria that he is looking for – both negative and positive. Upon receipt of the waiver the non-citizen may be able to naturalize and petition his family.

A person who came into the United States with a false name in his passport may be eligible for a waiver of that misrepresentation if he has a parent or spouse who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who will suffer extreme hardship if the non-citizen is forced to return to the home country. Both Citizenship & Immigration Services and the Immigration Courts take the words “extreme hardship” literally. The standard requires that non-citizen show more than just the spouse or parent loves and would miss the immigrant. However, if the facts are presented in the most favorable light, it is possible to obtain the waiver.

Of course, if the person has never been granted a green card, the waiver will not solve all the problems. He will still need to be eligible to apply for lawful residence in order to legally live and work in the U.S. Various family relationships, employment, and business investments are just some of the ways to obtain legal status in the U.S. The knowledgeable immigration lawyer will explore all possible legitimate avenues to determine if the alien is eligible for a green card. An immigration attorney will also explore whether a non-citizen is eligible for non-immigrant visas and any waivers that may be necessary and available.

The descriptions of relief and waivers in this article are just a brief outline of what may be available and how it might be obtained. It is essential to know when to apply for relief, what relief to apply for and how to apply in order to afford the best possibility for success. For all these reasons, it is necessary to seek the expertise of a knowledgeable and experienced immigration attorney who can help you find your immigration solution in 2007.