Did you enter the United States illegally? Are you wondering how it will affect getting a Green Card in the future? Don’t miss this 2-part blog!
Hi, I’m Hillary Walsh, I’m an immigration attorney and I’m here to answer those questions so hopefully you’ll be reassured and if not, we’ll help you find solutions that will solve this problem. My law firm is New Frontier Immigration Law and we are helping people all over the United States. Our physical office is in Phoenix, Arizona, but I am a military wife and because I have lived a nomadic lifestyle for the past 15 years, my opinion is that I can help anyone wherever they are because I probably lived there at one time or another.
What is the ‘Permanent Bar’?
You may have heard of the three-year bar, you may have heard of the ten-year bar, for both bars you can get a waiver. However, there is no waiver, outside the context of VAWA, for permanent bar. Let’s talk about situations where someone entered the United States without permission and accumulated time of illegal presence. He left and then returned without permission. We will look at different scenarios so that you can understand a little bit about how this would apply to you.
The Importance of Permanent Bar
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Here’s why knowing about the permanent bar is so important: There’s no way you can fix your status in the U.S. or in your home country, unless you’ve already spent 10 consecutive years outside the U.S. This is a very important rule. It was basically assigned to penalize people who had violated the immigration rules once and then repeated it by entering the country without permission a second time. Or after being here for too long.
In Which Cases Does it Apply?
Let’s look at some scenarios to help you understand what the rules are for permanent bar. The important thing is to start by measuring “unlawful presence,” that is, the time you were here without permission. Perhaps you stayed longer than your visa allowed, you stayed longer than the 6 months allowed, more than the 90 days allowed. Once the time you were allowed to stay expires, so if it was 90 days and you stay 91 days, you have already accumulated time (1 day) of unlawful presence. So, this begins to take on importance for the permanent bar for cases after April 1, 1997.
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You may remember that in the 1990s, Bill Clinton was president and he signed a law and passed what Congress had already decided, his name was IIRAIRA (Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act). It was a great immigration reform that completely changed the way we apply immigration law until today based on what happened in 1996, the law went into effect on April 1, 1997. So, if you have accumulated a year of illegal presence in total, and you have illegally re-entered, then you have what is called a permanent bar. You may have accumulated one day here in Phoenix, 30 days in California, and 180 days elsewhere, but after you have accumulated a year in total days of unlawful presence, you cannot adjust your status/get a Green Card (in the U.S. or in your home country) until you have been gone for 10 years.
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We know this is a complicated issue so we will review the following part “Legal, Illegal Presence and Examples” in the second part of this blog “Permanent Block and Green Card (Part 2)” as well as how we have helped people who have this block to adjust their status, without leaving the country!
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