The Permanent Bar and Green Card

Did you enter the United States unlawfully? Do you wonder how that’s going to impact your ability to get a green card in the future? Hi I’m Hillary Walsh I’m in immigration lawyer and I’m here to answer those questions for you to hopefully put your mind at ease and if not we’re going to help you find solutions that solve this problem for you. My Law Firm is New Frontier immigration law and we’re helping people all over the United States. Our physical building is in Phoenix Arizona but I am a military spouse and because I’ve lived a nomadic lifestyle for the past 15 years my view is I can help anyone where they are because I probably live there at some point in time .

The Permanent Bar

What is a permanent bar? You may have heard about a three-year bar you may have heard of the 10-year bar. Both of those you can get waivers for. The permanent bar however there’s no waiver for it outside of the context of VAWA and we’re not going to talk about that right now. We’re going to talk about the situations where you’ve entered the United States accrued unlawful presence. You left and then you came back without permission. We’re going to go through a lot of different hypotheticals so you can understand where you might fit into this. 


Importance of the Permanent Bar

Here’s why the permanent bar is so important; there’s no way before it you cannot fix your status in the US or in your home country unless and until you are outside of the United States for 10 years consecutively. So this is a very significant rule. It was assigned to basically penalize people who had broken immigration rules once and then repeated that by entering the country without permission a second time. Or rather after they had been here for too long. Let’s go into why it’s so important to know. 


In Which Cases is the Permanent Bar Applied? 

So let’s go into some  hypotheticals to help you understand what the rules are for the permanent bar. The important thing with a permanent bar is we start measuring unlawful presence, meaning that you’re here without permission. Perhaps you overstayed your visa when you first came in here. You stayed longer than 6 months, longer than the 90 days. After the time that you were permitted to come in expires, so if it was 90 days and you stay 91 days, you’ve accrued unlawful presence. So this starts to matter for purposes of the permanent bar for things after April 1st 1997. 


You may remember back in the 90s in the mid-to-later 90s Bill Clinton was President and he signed into legislation and approved what the house Congress had already decided and it was called Ira Ira. It was a huge immigration reform that completely changed the way that we do immigration law today based on what happened in 1996 and the law went to effect on April 1st 1997. So if you have accrued a year of unlawful presence in the aggregate then you unlawfully enter again then you have what is called a permanent bar. You can accrue one day here, 30 days there, 180 days elsewhere but after you’ve accrued one year in total of a unlawful presence days you’re not able to fix your status/get a green card (in the United States or in your home country) until you’ve been out of the US for 10 years. 


Lawful, Unlawful Presence and Examples

Let’s unpack this. It’s important to know that if you have been here in the United States for a year in total without permission after April 1st 1997 and then you leave and let’s say that you come back with a Visa. It can be your friend’s passport as long as it’s not a US citizen´s. It could have been your friend´s passport, it could have been that you were waived through, could have been that you were on a bus and no one asked for your ID and you are just allowed to enter. That is considered a lawful entry in the permanent bar is not triggered there.

By contrast if after April 1st 1997 you have been in the United States without permission/without authorization/you overstay the amount of time that you were allowed to be here (for a total of one year) and then you leave and you come back without permission. Perhaps you came in walking through the desert/wading through the river/some other way in the train secretly and not through a main port of entry that is going to trigger the permanent bar. So you see how there’s a difference there. Both people had a year of unlawful presence, they left. The one person came back with permission or with authorization or with inspection at a Port of Entry like Nogales or Douglas. By contrast the other person came back to the US without being inspected without permission, without being known. The person who came back in with the Visa or with a passport or was waved through does not trigger the permanent bar and they will be able to fix and be able to get their green card. By contrast the person who went about it secretly they will not be able to fix. They will not be able to get their green card unless and until they wait 10 years outside the country.


Now with a process of VAWA we are able to help people if the time that you reentered without permission, something was difficult going on within your family. Either through your marital problems with your US citizen/lawful permanent resident spouse or perhaps through your US citizen child. Then we can help with fixing even with an unlawful entry after accruing a year of unlawful presence. But before we go into the roots here, this is what it’s important. If someone is telling you that yes you were here in the US for over a year after April 1st 1997 and then you illegally entered again and they’re trying to send you outside of the country to the Consular process, get a second opinion. Because you will be barred from the country from re-entering the country for 10 years and it’s going to really really disrupt your life. It’s going to tear your family apart for 10 years and we can help you solve this problem without leaving the US through the process called VAWA. Other forms of what’s called deferred action. Now we don’t want to go too far into exactly what all those things are. 


I hope this has been helpful for the permanent bar. It repeatedly twists every immigration lawyer’s brain into knots.  At the end of the day we want to help you be able to send the United States lawfully. I know that’s what you want too. This is your home. You belong here and you deserve to live here free of the stress of imminent removal or feeling like an outsider. You’ve been here for decades, you’ve raised amazing children here and we want to help you stay in the US and if possible avoid the permanent bar. My name is Hillary Walsh. Send a message to New Frontier immigration law we can’t wait 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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