I Entered the Country Without Inspection: Can I Stay?

Updated: Feb 18

There are not many aspects worse than being deemed 'inadmissible' to the U.S. Many people are deemed inadmissible in the U.S. every year for a variety of reasons, such as those with histories of terrorist activities, drug abuse, communicable diseases, physical disorders that pose harm, and more. Did you also know that you could be deemed 'inadmissible' if you have entered the country without inspection?

Inspection is treated more seriously than many people believe, and could have a huge effect on your case if you have intentionally or unintentionally skipped the process. The question we hear most often in these cases is this: "I have entered the U.S. without inspection. What can I do? Am I still eligible to obtain residency if I want to?" This is because many people are looking for options to legalize themselves when they enter the United States. The truth is, you may find that the process is very difficult, but we can try to help you through any means possible.

Consequences Moving Forward

The reason for inspection is because the U.S. has dramatically increased its border security over the past few years. Entry without inspection (EWI) occurs when somebody enters the U.S. without first going to a border checkpoint and obtaining permission to come into the country. When you do not obtain this permission, you are actually guilty of a very serious offense and it could result in consequences like jail time, deportation, and any type of special immigration relief.

Improper entry into the U.S. and unlawful presence are two different concepts. Improper entry can lead to 6 months of jail time and a fine of up to $250. Unlawful presence, on the other hand, is when somebody has jumped the border and is living in the U.S. at this time. This could be seen as a civil offense rather than a criminal one. If you overstayed your visa, you have an unlawful presence in the U.S. and you could face strict measures such as detention and deportation. If you ever want to enter the U.S. in the future, you may not be able to do so.

However, there is a way to remedy this situation. Say that you decide to voluntarily leave the U.S. If you do so, you could be eligible to apply for admission back into the U.S. after being abroad for 3-10 years. A 3-year bar occurs when you have been unlawfully present for more than 180 days but less than a year, and a 10-year bar applies when you were in the country for a year or more unlawfully.

The only way to cure the EWI is through Section 245(i), which is not a simple procedure by any means. This is the LIFE Act, which enables certain individuals to obtain residence even if they have entered the United States unlawfully. However, to meet the qualifications, you must:

- Be the beneficiary of a Form ETA 750 (labor certification application) or Immigrant visa petition (Forms I-130, I-140, and Immigration Petition for Alien Worker)

- You must have filed these on or before April 30, 2001.

To apply for 245(i) after meeting the above conditions, you need to complete Supplement A to Form I-485 and pay an additional $1,000 fee.

It is important to act quickly and seek the help of an immigration attorney if you are struggling with the consequences of having entered the U.S. without inspection. Don't risk it all, and speak with us as soon as possible. At the Sky Law Firm, we care about your case and want to help you every step of the way. Call us today at 657-500-0011.