The Permanent Bar is a measure by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to disallow foreign nationals from entering the U.S. after they had previously lived in the country without proper authorization. This “bar” is formally known as the Permanent Unlawful Presence Ground of Inadmissibility.
Essentially, the U.S. government does not accept any requests for visas or other legal entry into the country if you were deported and attempted to or successfully came back without authorization.
You May Face Many Limitations When You’re Permanently Barred
When you have a permanent bar on your ability to visit or live in the U.S., you generally cannot:
- Apply for any type of visa to come to the U.S.
- Apply to get a green card and become a permanent resident
- Enter the country legally through any entry point
But just because you entered the U.S. or lived here without legal documentation doesn’t mean you’ll be permanently barred from coming back. The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) outlines the factors that lead to any bar, including a permanent bar:
- Your immigration status during the entirety of your stay
- The length of time you were in the country without valid authorization
- Whether you were deported or left on your own accord
- Whether you abided by the temporary bar time frames, if you were deported
- Whether you attempted to or were successful at unlawfully entering and/or living in the U.S. after being deported
- Whether you attempted to or committed a crime in the U.S. or have a criminal history
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The Aggregate Period for a Permanent Bar
The aggregate period refers to the length of time you were in the country without proper authorization occurring over all your stays. You start to “accrue” days in the aggregate period once you are deemed unlawfully in the U.S. That may start when you arrive if you came here without any authorization (like a visa), which is known as “entry without inspection” or EWI. Or, it may start when your authorization ends (such as when your visa expires).
If you overstay a visa or enter the country without one, you won’t automatically have a permanent bar. You would have to accrue at least one year, or 365 days, of unlawful presence in the country. But it doesn’t need to be 365 consecutive days — if you come and go and accrue one year or more in unlawful presence, you may be subject to a permanent bar.
In addition, you must also have at least one more attempted or successful EWI to face a permanent bar.
Exceptions for Accruing Unlawful Presence
Some noncitizens without lawful status may be temporarily exempt from accruing unlawful presence due to special circumstances. These exceptions include:
- Children under the age of 18
- Individuals with Temporary Protected Status, including those under the protection of a family unity program
Can You Petition for a Visa or Legal Status If You’re Permanently Barred?
While USCIS states that a permanent bar is forever, you may have options to request permission to apply for legal entry. But it is harder to regain legal entry if you have been permanently barred.
First, you must be physically out of the U.S. for at least 10 years since the last time you left. This is the minimum probationary period. You generally cannot apply for a visa or petition for consent to apply.
Second, you must send your petition applications from outside the U.S. This application would essentially be your way of asking the government if you’re allowed to apply for a legal visa to enter the country and asking that they drop the permanent bar. Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to file the following petition applications:
- Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant
- Form I-212, Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States After Deportation or Removal
What If You’re Denied?
If you file a petition and USCIS denies it, you may be able to appeal the decision, depending on why it was denied. Otherwise, you may not be able to enter the country for the reason you were permanently barred.
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Find Out If You Can Get Relief from Your Permanent Bar
At New Frontier Immigration Law, we know how much it means to you and your family to come to the U.S., whether it’s to make a new life for yourself or to visit loved ones who live here. We can apply U.S. immigration law and precedents to your case to determine if you could be facing a permanent bar or whether you’re already permanently barred.
Our team can also help you determine whether you qualify for a petition, file your application, and navigate any appeals or other steps so you can come to the U.S. on the government’s terms. Contact us today for a free strategic session to discuss your permanent bar.