I Came to the U.S. Illegally, Am I Able to Stay?

Updated: Feb 18

Here is an example scenario that you may be able to identify with.

I came to the U.S. illegally two years ago and ever since, I've been looking to move forward with permanent residence. How do you move forward? Am I ever able to become a permanent resident in the United States?

This is a difficult question to answer. There are several ways to become an undocumented immigrant to become a permanent resident, but the options are scarce. U.S. immigration law in our current times makes it very difficult to become a resident as it is, and even more difficult if you did not come here legally. We will walk you through your many options, and how they could be available to you.

Ways to Become a Permanent Resident

Marriage: One of the ways that you can become a permanent resident is by marrying someone who is already a U.S. citizen. This means that you are involved in a real, bona fide marriage that is not just being used for the purposes of fraud. However, this is not always as cut and dry as it seems.

For instance, if you just overstayed your visa and that is why you are here illegally, you may be in luck and given an exception if you marry someone in the U.S. However, if you passed the border in secret or some other method that ended in your illegal entrance, you have a very small chance of being able to become a permanent resident. No matter what option, if you work with an attorney you could find that the process is very difficult and time-consuming, but not always impossible.

Military: Technically, you cannot serve in the U.S. Army unless you hold a Green Card already. However, this is different if you are an international student who has been in the U.S. for 2 years or more. If you then serve in the Armed Forces, you will be eligible for U.S. citizenship. If you are somebody who has previously fought in different wars, such as World War II, the Persian Gulf War, and Operation Enduring Freedom, you are already eligible.

Cancellation of Removal: You may be able to avoid removal even if you were arrested for entering illegally. This is only if you can prove that you have been physically present for at least 10 years, have had good moral character, you would experience hardship in being removed, and you aren't disqualified for other eligibility reasons. These are various things you will need to prove if you are involved in immigration court proceedings. We can help.

Asylum: Do you qualify for asylum and apply within a year of entering the U.S.? If you have been persecuted in your home country based on aspects like race or political opinion, you may be granted asylum and could apply for a green card a year after you have been approved to stay.

Temporary Protected Status: Did you come here from a country where there is ongoing conflict or a natural disaster wiping out parts of the country? You may be able to gain Temporary Protected Status, which is not a green card but will allow you to spend time in the U.S. and give you plenty of time to apply for a work permit as you stay.

Have you been staying in the U.S. illegally and you want to work toward permanent residence? As you can see, there are many ways to do so, even though it can be a difficult process. We can help you. At Sky Law Firm, we care about your rights and want to protect you. Call us as soon as possible at 657-500-0011.