The Permanent Bar and Green Card (Part 2)

Hi, in this blog post we will continue with our explanation about the permanent bar and how to adjust your status, if you have one.

Legal and illegal presence and examples

Let’s recap. It is important to know that, if you have been here in the United States, for one year in total, after April 1, 1997:

  • Without permission and then you leave and let’s say you come back with a visa, or it could be a friend’s passport (as long as it’s not a US citizen’s), it could have been that you were let in while in the line, it could have been that you were on a bus and nobody asked you for your ID and you were just allowed in. All of these examples are considered legal entries and the permanent bar is not activated in that case.

On the contrary, if after April 1, 1997:

  • You have been in the United States without permission, authorization and/or have exceeded the time you were allowed to be here (for a total of one year) and then you leave and return without permission, or you entered by walking in the desert, swimming in the river or in some other way, by train in a secret manner and not through a main port of entry, then the permanent bar will be activated.

You can tell there’s a difference there. Both people accumulated a year of illegal presence, they left. The only person returned with permission or authorization or with inspection at a port of entry like Nogales or Douglas. In contrast, the other person returned to the U.S. without being inspected without permission, without being known. The person who returned with the Visa or a passport or was invited does not activate the permanent ban and can arrange and obtain their green card. Adversely, the person who did it in secret will not be able to fix it. They will not be able to get their green card unless and until they wait 10 years outside the country.

Now, with a VAWA process, we can help people if perhaps something was going on in their family at the time they went back into the country without permission, either through a marital problem with their U.S. citizen or legal resident spouse, or perhaps through their U.S. citizen child. Then we can help you adjust your status even with an entry without permission after accumulating a year of unlawful presence. But before we get into the details, here’s the important thing: If someone tells you that yes, you were here in the United States for more than a year after April 1, 1997, and then you entered illegally again and tries to send you out of the country for the Consular Process, get a second opinion. Because you will be banned from re-entering the country for 10 years and this is really going to affect your life, it’s going to separate your family for 10 years when we can help you solve this problem without leaving the United States through the process called VAWA or other forms of what is called deferred action. We won’t go into detail now, but please get a second opinion.


I hope this has been helpful in helping you understand a little more about the “permanent bar”. It is a process that is complicated even for every immigration attorney. At the end of the day, we want to help you live legally in the United States. I know that’s what you want, too. This is your home. YOU BELONG HERE and you deserve to live free from the stress of an impending move or feeling like a stranger. You’ve been here for decades, you’ve raised amazing children, and we want to help you stay in America. And, if possible, avoid the permanent bar. My name is Hillary Walsh. Send us a message, we want to help you.

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New Frontier Immigration Law

New Frontier understand there is a lot in the news guiding people to be fearful of undocumented immigrants. Fear from the community causes your family to fear more. We understand this, and we want to help.

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