I’m Illegal, I Can Still Get a Green Card by Marrying My U.S. Citizen Boyfriend or Girlfriend?

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Note: The Law Office of Larry L. Doan in Los Angeles, CA, provides the following blog article and other information on this site, including our responses to comments, for the purpose of legal information only; it is NOT legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. Any action you take or rely upon after reading the information on this blog is your own responsibility and the Law Office of Larry L. Doan bears no responsibility or connection to such action.

For an analysis of your actual specific question, there is no substitute for a “live” meeting with an attorney. This can only be done during a paid consultation between the Law Office of Larry L. Doan and you. This can be arranged with us through email. Note: While you are welcome to describe your situation or questions in your first email to us, we will not reply to your email by giving an opinion or advice but will contact you with the consultation fee amount. Due to the volume of email received from this blog and our lawyers’ valuable time, please remember again that WE DO NOT PROVIDE FREE ADVICE OR SERVICE. To get started, click here: consult@GuruImmigration.com.

In a previous post, “It’s Easy for Me to get a Green Card by Marrying My U.S. Citizen Boyfriend or Girlfriend, Right?”, we promised that we would discuss the hard, maybe extremely hard, marriage cases. Well, those are the ones in which the applicant came to this country illegally, the vast majority of times by crossing the border without inspection. There is a huge number of these folks living in the U.S., especially people from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and sometimes mainland China. That’s not a surprise since the U.S. southern border was and still is to some extent relatively easy to cross without inspection.

It usually comes as a shock when we tell these people that even though they are married to a U.S. citizen, they still must go back to their homeland to obtain final approval to return permanently to this country, unless they had a previous immigrant petition filed for them by April 30, 2001. However, most people simply don’t have the benefit of having a previous petition filed for them, so the green card cannot be approved while they are in the U.S. For example, Mexicans in this situation would have to travel to the U.S. Consulate in Juarez, Mexico, which is just across the border from El Paso, Texas, to be interviewed and obtain approval, a process called “consular processing.”

Just across the border from Texas? No problem, let’s book a ticket…

But wait, not so fast! The problem is, these people had been living in the U.S. illegally for many years prior to departing for their homeland. If at least a year illegally, which is common, then the immigration law imposes a harsh 10-year bar against these people from getting their cases approved if they are now in their country trying to apply to return, even if they have a U.S. citizen spouse and children waiting back in the U.S.! This is perhaps even a bigger shock to people. If more than 180 days to less than a year illegally then they face a 3-year bar from returning, which is still too long.

Note: These bars apply not only to people who came to the U.S. illegally and then leave the U.S. (to apply overseas with or without full knowledge of these bars), but also to those who have been out-of-status on their visas (came legally) and then leave the U.S. before getting a green card (the departure is the key, if no departure then no bar). Also, we get asked all the time whether a child “brought” here by his or her parent “unwillingly” is considered to come here illegally. The answer is yes, there’s no excuse! If the child crossed the border without inspection (illegally) with his or her parents or other people, the child will have the 3- or 10-year bar be an obstacle now, unless he or she leaves the U.S. by the time they turn 18 1/2 and is trying to apply from overseas.

We’ve seen many people made this journey without adequate prior information and legal advice, and now they’re stuck in their country without a way of returning to the U.S. except by entering illegally again. Juarez, Mexico, is used here as an example only. If a person came here illegally from a country much further from the U.S., the journey back to the homeland and then being stuck there because of the bar is a scary prospect! Only if they had been illegal in the U.S. for 180 days or less will there be no bar, but not too many people fall into that category. Also, time living illegally in the U.S. while under 18 does not count.

These bars were put into the law by Congress in 1996. Since then, many of us in the immigration law community have been pushing Congress to get rid of them. We may have some success with the new Obama Administration in the next four years. Meantime, the same law that added these bars does provide a way of overcoming them, and that is through what’s known as the “extreme hardship” waiver. Basically, the applicant has to prove to the immigration officer that the denial of their case (which means no visa issued to enter the U.S.) would result in extreme hardship to his or her spouse or a parent, if the spouse or parent happens to be a U.S. citizen or legal resident.

Extreme hardship is not an easy standard to meet. It is not merely the claim that you will be separated from your spouse and family in the U.S. because every one of these cases involves separation. It is something more, encompassing emotional, psychological, financial, and material hardship that the family will suffer. Documents and evidence must be submitted to demonstrate these hardships. For a realistic chance for the waiver to succeed, all the evidence should be marshaled and put together by an immigration attorney experienced in this type of matter. Otherwise, it will be too easy for the consular officer to deny the waiver.

To make it clear, the 3- and 10-year bars do not take effect if the person never leaves the U.S. However, if they remain here, they cannot become legalized under current law if they are not immediate relatives. There is no way to get their papers here! People continue to ask us if there is a way but no, there is absolutely no way to do it while remaining in the U.S., we cannot do magic if it’s not within current law. It’s the person’s choice, of course, to go or to stay. Going will lead to possible approval by the consulate overseas for permanent residence at a considerable risk, while staying will lead to the same old same old of being illegal in the U.S. and not having any papers. It’s really almost a Catch-22 situation for immigrants.

Update:  For certain applicants who are immediate relatives and who are already in the U.S., a new “provisional waiver” has been available since March 4, 2013, where the applicant can apply for the waiver here rather than being forced to apply for the waiver only in their home country.  Thus, the Catch-22 situation is eliminated for these applicants.  I will write more about this new waiver soon.

When you search the internet for information on green card through marriage, be careful of sites that discuss how the immigrant spouse can file for “adjustment of status,” “adjustment,” or “Form I-485″ without even mentioning these bars. “Adjustment of status” is the process of filing for the green card here in the U.S. without having to leave. It simply is not possible if the immigrant came illegally and is now relying on a petition filed after April 30, 2001!

The only exception for the immigrant spouse who came illegally to the U.S. is if he or she had a previous immigrant petition filed for them prior to or on April 30, 2001. This could have been a family I-130 petition filed for them by a relative or former relative who was a U.S. citizen or legal resident, or even a labor certification or employment petition filed for them by an employer offering a permanent job. If that is the case, the good news is that the person does NOT have to travel to the U.S. consulate to get their green card but can adjust their status here. This is the famous 245i law that many immigrants have heard about. They would fall into the “easy” cases described in our previous article. An extra $1,000 penalty is necessary in addition to regular filing fees, but that’s a whole lot better than having to leave the U.S. and be confronted with the 3- or 10-year bar!

Update: A lot of people married to US citizens (or planning to marry) have sent us comments and questions after reading this article, who arrived in the U.S. with a visa or otherwise inspected upon entry, and are worried now that they have been out-of-status for so long. Please note that the article you just read is not applicable to you but to those who crossed the border illegally. Your situation is described in the previous article “It’s Easy for Me to get a Green Card by Marrying My U.S. Citizen Boyfriend or Girlfriend, Right?” As explained there, even if you have been out-of-status for many years, that violation is forgiven if your citizen spouse is going to petition for you for the green card. The 10-year bar will not apply to you unless you make the mistake of leaving the U.S. for whatever reason before receiving the green card.

Copyright © 2009-2012 Law Office of Larry L. Doan consult@GuruImmigration.com (we will contact you with the consult fee amount). And please remember, WE DO NOT PROVIDE FREE ADVICE OR SERVICE.

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234 Responses to “I’m Illegal, I Can Still Get a Green Card by Marrying My U.S. Citizen Boyfriend or Girlfriend?”

  1. Hi, Great website!!
    I think this article help me the most about my situation. I thinking about marry my boyfriend of 4 years. I’m US citizen but he is illegal immigrate form Mexico. He got arrested last year for driving without driver licences but did’t get deport back to Mexico. First i though the process going to be easy because I’m a citizen but after read this i so scare. We just go the house together(under my name only) but now i’m unsure about the future. I can’t afford this alone and after read this i’m not sure if he will fall in the permanent bar? He filed tax and have car insurance and rent apartment here for the past 4 years. Any suggestion?

    • Yes, as the Guru tells it straight up in the article: it won’t be easy because he came illegally. The 10-year bar will be against him if he chooses to take the risk of going to Juarez to arrange his residency. There is absolutely no other way. See “OUR INFO & CONTACT” for how to get in touch with us so we can represent him and you on such a case and to learn about our fees.

      John A., Legal Assistant

  2. Excuse me, if a person came legally then went out the country and came illegally and caught by immigration and sent out again. Some time later came in illegaly and get married to an american person, can the person apply for a green card yet?

    • No. You cannot keep returning illegally to this country more than once as you did and then expect everything to just be fine and file a normal application. In fact, under current law, unfortunately, there is a PERMANENT bar against you, meaning you can never become legalized.

  3. Hello Lary , i wanna take my time to let you know that you are doing a great job on this site , and i wanna thank you for that . Well my question is that i came to the us with a friend`s UK passport about eight years ago and i met the love of my life who is a US citizen . she already had two kids before i met her , but we got married here in the US , and we just had a baby about nine months ago . she already filed all the paper-work , and i just had my fingerprints done . So do you think that i could be asked to go back to my country Nigeria ?

  4. Hi Guru,

    Thank you for having such a great website to discuss immigration issues. I came to this country illegally at the age of 14. I have been living here (USA) for over 10 years, finished college and now working on a master’s degree all with scholarships. I have done wonderful at school and have recently been offered an assistanship at a university at Texas to do my PhD. The problem is that I don’t have any visa. My mother and sibilings are adjusting their immigration status under VAWA, and I couldn’t qualify at that time for being over 21 by a few weeks.
    I really want to get my PhD to then work in this country. The school I have been accepted to is willing to give me a letter to apply for the J1 visa at my home country. I am not sure how likely it is for me to get it since I have been in this country illegally for so many years even though I have been a good citizen. Also, there is this other fact, my boyfriend and I want to get married. We truly love each other. He is an american citizen, but we want to do things right and at the best timing. Do you think I have hope of getting this J1 visa? Are there any other alternatives in my case? Thank you so much.

    • Quick 30-second answer as per our policy: as an illegal entrant, your situation is no different that those illegal entrants discussed in the article who want to apply for the green card through marriage. You can’t apply for the J-1 here but must do so in your country and, unfortunately, risk the 10-year bar as soon as you step foot outside the US.

  5. Hey Guru,

    Got a question to ask, as to the extreme hardship. My oldest son has survivor allergies and asthma. He gets allergy shot every week and is currently taking medication and inhaler everyday to help with his symtom.
    Now could I use this as an example of an extreme hardship in order to get a wavier for my wife. My wife came here illegally without inspection and till now she did not get caught by immagration. But I did pursu the first step which is to get her thru with 1030, we are now legally married.
    Before the go ahead I would like to get an opinion from the “Guru”. Thank you, hope to hear from you soon.

    • We are not sure why you did not read the following at the beginning of every article on here, where it is clearly stated:

      Note: The Law Office of Larry Liem Doan in Los Angeles, CA, provides the following blog article and other information on this site, especially responses to readers’ comments, for the purpose of legal information only, which should not be construed as legal advice nor to create an attorney-client relationship. We do not offer free advice nor is it appropriate for us to analyze your specific immigration situation in detail on this blog for free, except to clarify or explain certain points discussed in the blog article.

      The Guru will gladly render an opinion to you as part of a formal paid consultation. See “OUR INFO & CONTACT” or the beginning of every blog article for contact info.

      John A., Legal Assistant

  6. hi I am from Switzerland. I came to the Us with an F1 visa and after completing the one year program I got on an OPT visa that allowed me to work in the US for a year. I also had a social security card. because I was running out of money I wasn’t able to attend another class after my OPT ran out and now I am out of status. My F1 visa is still valid till 2012 but now I don’t know what to do to get legal. I wanna work and live her as I hat my own country and the us is like the first country I ever felt home and accepted. In Switzerland I studied teaching for 2 years but stopped after that, but I still have a high education and speak 4 languages. In my own country there is no opportunity for me to work as an actress as there is like no industry there and people do not treat you nicely if you are not a lawyer, doctor, teacher or work in a bank. is there any chance to change my status?

    • Your comment should not have been under this article because you’re not an “illegal” but an overstayer. There are other types of nonimmigrant visas that may work but it’s too late now, you cannot change to anything if you’re out of status. That’s why people who are in love get married to a US citizen so that it’s the quickest way. Contact the Guru for help on a marriage case IF you have a legitimate marriage.

      John A., Legal Assistant

  7. I just want to make sure that I understand everything that I have read so far. If a woman comes to the US illegally, stays here over 5 years, marries a US citizen, has a child, applies for a green card while in the US, she is subject to and most likely will receive a 10 year ban from re-entry during her consular processing that is scheduled in Juarez Mexico. There are no extenuating circumstances such as hardship to be taken into account. Is that correct? Sounds pretty much cut and dry if I am understanding correctly.

    • No, not quite. She CANNOT apply for the ultimate step of permanent residency (the green card) while in the US but MUST do so overseas at Juarez where she can give her best shot at demonstrating extreme hardship to her spouse, where it’s somewhat unpredictable how the consulate officer will grant or deny based on the hardship being strong enough. If the officer denies, she can’t come back for 10 years.

  8. Hi
    I have U.S. Citizenship and I got merry last year and my husband didn’t have a greencard. I applied for him and he just got a green card. My husband has a daughter from previous marriage (15 years old) and she came to this country illigaly when she was 5 years old. She is now in highschool. We did not apply for her together with her father because we were affraid that he is not going to get his papers (his daughter came here totaly illigaly) but since he did we want to apply now. His daguther (very nice girl) lives with her mather (which is also illigal but with expired visa) but visist us all the time. Because she is in school, we are working we don’t want her to live this country and we would like to apply for “extreme hardship waiver”. Do we have any chance to get it? What we should tell to officer to convince him that it will be a real hardship for her to let her live since she doesn’t speak other language English? And also what about her mother? Does she can have a problems since she live here illigaly?

    • One thing that you brought up was mentioned in this article and can be repeated here: if the girl is under 18, there is no unlawful presence counted against her. And there’s no need to worry about the extreme hardship waiver IF she qualifies to become legalized here rather than having to leave the US to do so. However, the $64,000 question is whether she qualifies to get her papers here or not.

      As for the rest of your case-specific comment seeking guidance, read “Please Read Before Posting Comments or Questions“ for our policy. Without a paid consultation, we simply cannot just tell you what to say to an immigration officer (it is not as simple as just saying something to the officer if the facts are against you) or answer whether you “have any chance to get it” because we don’t have all the background facts. We would risk telling you the wrong information flying blind. Contact us for such a consultation to see if she has to leave the US or not to get her papers. Our contact info is on our home page and on all the blog articles.

  9. My girlfriend recently turned 18 she is going back to her country, Mexico, to not pass the 180 days. I am confuse about this law. How are they going to know that she left before the 180 days? What proof are they going to ask for? I dont want her to leave and not be able to proove that she left before the 180 days. I am going to go and marry her over there as soon as I can and apply for an I-130. How long would it take for her to be able to come back if I do? Right now for the vermont office it says 5 months. Does that mean 5 months for it to just get accepted? Or 5 months for the whole process to be over and her to be able to join me back here in the United States?

    • It’s one of the easiest things in the world for a person to prove that she is outside the US: plane or bus tickets. Also, for example, one can go in front of a governmental office in that country and ask to do an official affidavit as proof. But why would you want to marry her there in Mexico? This and the rest of your questions can only be answered by the Guru when you pay for a consultation.

  10. I came to the US on a visitors visa on 2001 to visit my now husband. Fell in love with him he proposed and i didnt want to leave him. We got married and have been happily married for 8 yrs here in the us have a 7 yr old son.My visitors visa expired shortly after we got married. We filed 2 times for a green card on our own once when i was pregnant, once when my husband was in the Army, but always getting something back that we didn’t file a certain doc. We got discouraged. Were very misinformed.
    My passport also expired, I will have it renewed when I have had my appt with my lawyer.
    We made a appt with a recommended immegration lawyer here for next week for a consultation.

    My question is, can we still file for the green card? I am so scared to be deported but I have been a good person, I never worked this whole time, I didn’t commit crimes. Nothing that would keep me away from my family whom I love so much. I am just a stay at home mom/wife who just wants to do the right thing but been stuck in the red tape.

    • Sorry but I don’t understand why you don’t ask your lawyer if you already have one? (“my appt with my lawyer”)

      If you don’t have confidence in that lawyer then hire the Guru.

      Our time and resources are devoted to those who want to retain us and become our clients, as our disclaimer on every page of this blog states. We simply cannot service unsolicited questions over the internet like this from those who already have counsel. If you want a second opinion, then please retain the Guru (my boss) for a consultation as you do any local lawyer in your town or city.

      John A., Legal Assistant

  11. My boyfriend was brought here from mexico illegally when he was 4. His mom is now a citizen but she never fixed his papers. He is now 28 and we are expecting a child and will be getting married. I am a U.S. citizen. I was wondering if it is easier for his mom to file a petition for him or if I file a fiance visa? If I read correctly he would have to go back to mexico in the meantime but my concern is he has no information on file back there since he has lived here his whole life (info such as police records, medical records etc) so would that delay the process? I can not financially support our child alone, would that alone be enough hardship to get the bar waived? I realize that I will have to pay for a consultation for most info I was just hoping to get pointed in the right direction. Thanks so much!

    • You’re confused by the law and should do a paid consult with us. Doesn’t matter who petitions for him, you or his mother, he cannot be legalized here because of illegal entry, as the article states. Must go to Juarez and risk separation from rest of family – some people do. Fiance visa is only for a person who’s overseas right now but wishes to come to US legally with a visa to marry a citizen. He’s already here, illegally no less – fiance visa cannot and will not be issued.

  12. Hello, I was wondering my fiance came to the US illegally over 12 years ago. We have 2 kids and would like to get married. From reading the article i was wondering if there was anyway that his employer would be able to petition for a work permit since he has been working for him for almost 10 yrs which would be before April 30, 2001. Or does this not change anything since the petition wasn’t done before April 30, 2001??? And even if we get married he would either have to leave the country and risk 10yr bar or stay until the law changes??? Is there anything else we can do or just wait to see when the laws change???

    • Guys, please don’t ask multiple questions from each of you. What is stated in the article is precisely that: The petition or labor certification MUST have been done on or prior to April 30, 2001. Filing after that does not change anything and does not work. There’s nothing he can do to get his papers in the U.S. due to illegal entry, (see answer to his comment we gave ten minutes ago). He’d have to risk going to Juarez and apply.

  13. My boyfriend of 3 years came here by illegally crossing the border of Mexico even though he is Costa Rican, he was inspected and given a court date for august of 2005 which he did not go to, now we want to get married but I worry about the consequences for him. Do you have any advice on what our next step should be and whether or not we should get married? I am a US citizen.

    Thanks for any help

    • Surely, he knew the consequences of not going to court: the judge most likely ordered his removal (deportation) in absentia, meaning even when he’s not there. There’s no excuse in not going to court when one knew one had to go yet refused to go. Unfortunately, there is almost nothing he can do to become legal at this point with a deportation like that on his records unless he spends 10 years outside the U.S. In fact, he can be arrested summarily at any time by immigration agents and put on a plane back to Costa Rica.

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  15. I just had question what if you came here with a b1/b2 visa and overstayed. however, I lost I-94 since I came here since 1994. I have proof of the visa and a stamp of us immigration in my passport and a stamp of the international airport i entered. I also have an sticker of the airline i used. Would I have to go back?? and is my case doable?

  16. Hi
    I had been in the US illegally on Feb 22th 2004.
    my asylum case was pending as of may 3rd 2004.
    On December 17th 2007 my appeals was denied.
    I left the country on may 29th 2008.
    Do I need the I601 waiver?

    • From Dec. 17, 2007 until May 29, 2008 is less than 180 days so it seems you will not be subject to the 3-year bar. However, that’s only if you had a bona fide asylum application. Since you’re from Canada, your asylum might not have been bona fide since there’s no persecution to speak of going on in Canada. A frivolous asylum application, which we cannot rule out in your case unless we have all the facts, would still subject you now to the 10-year bar. It’s possible you came from a third country and had experienced persecution there, but only a paid consultation with us could confirm that.

  17. I came to the US when I was 2 years old, I am now 22. My I 94 expired when I was about either 4 or 5 years old, I am not really sure when. How do I obtain my citizenship? I obviously do not know anything about my birth country, to me, I belong here. I am a bit nervous about going to apply for my citizenship only because I don’t want to end up getting deported. I don’t have any criminal records and I was too young to go back to my country to renew my visa. Please help me with any information. If I get deported I won’t even know how to communicate with others from my birth country, I am only fluent in English. Right now I’ve been living with my boyfriend for 2years, we’ve spoken a lot about marriage but if there is a way to get my citizenship earlier without marriage that would be great! (my boyfriend wants to get married in 7years). Thank you very much for your time, any information is greatly appreciated.

    • Since you mentioned your expired I-94, you probably did not come illegally to the U.S. so your comment should not really be in this article, which are for those who came with no documents. You should know that no one born in another country becomes a US citizen right away. They must qualify and become a green-card holder for 3 or 5 years first before applying for citizenship. But anyway, we could help you get your green card, but can only know for sure by you consulting with us. Please call us at 310.289.2155 on Monday or during the work week. Our hours are M-F, 8a-5p (Pacific Time). Or you can email: consult@GuruImmigration.com. There will be a reasonable consultation fee to look at your records by email or fax. If you retain our firm to do your green card case (our fees are comparable to most law firms in Los Angeles), then the consultation fee is ultimately waived but we do charge it in the beginning. Even though you are on the East Coast, we can help you no matter where you are in the country since the immigration law is the same.

  18. i came here with my passport and i overstayed my visit, how or where should i go to obtain legal status?

    • “i came here with my passport…” You mean you came with Visa Waiver because no alien comes to the U.S. with just a passport except those from Visa Waiver countries who show their passports but receive the I-94W at the airport stamped with a 90-day period to visit the U.S. If you’ve overstayed the 90 days, you can’t expect now to just all of a sudden become legal by applying for something else just like that. US Immigration is especially strict with people from Visa Waiver countries because it’s a privilege to come here and visit for 90 days without having to obtain a tourist visa, but that means you have to leave before 90 days. You can’t change to anything else (except marriage to a U.S. citizen but the marriage will be carefully examined for possible fraud) and should return home or else you will be placed into removal proceedings.

  19. Hello my name is gilbert and i was wondering since i came here illegally is there even any way for me to get in college because i graduated high school and i have been in the U.S. my whole life. I am planning on marrying my fiance within the next six months and i was wondering exactly how my process would be because i dont know where to go to apply for a visa and all of that stuff. I dont know anything about my home country Mexico. Both of my parents are dead and i have pretty much been living on my own since the age of 13 and i was also wondering if that was a factor.I am 21 now and still cant get a job because i still dont have a visa.I am a very bright individual who feels that the government isnt right for the bar periods because i dont know my family in mexico and i wouldnt even know where to go.So is there anything you could tell me that could help me out.

    • The way the 10-year bar is, it’s unfair but that’s just the way the law is. And it’s not a new law; it’s been around for about 14 years. The bar does apply to you since you came illegally and now you’re over 21. It will be risky to go to Juarez as explained in the article you just read. Anyway, if reading our article is not sufficient, we can only provide you more information through a paid consultation by phone or email. We take all credit cards and Paypal. The consultation fee is reasonable. You can contact us by telephone at 310.289.2155 or email: consult@GuruImmigration.com.

  20. David Rathore Says:

    Dear MR Guru,

    I have a big problem and I want to know if there’s a solution that I haven’t thought about. I’m a US Citizen. My girlfriend is an illegal immigrant. She is 21 now and came to the US maybe since 1994. She was brought here using someone else’s documents. All paperwork including I-94 was than destroyed after. I spoke to some lawyers and they said she can file for false documentation and misrepresentation, but she doesn’t have no papers to prove she entered legally. She there anything she can do at all. I looked into it and can’t think of anything.

    Thank You.

    • “I have a big problem and I want to know if there’s a solution that I haven’t thought about”

      Are you an immigration lawyer looking for reinforcement in your thinking? Seeing how you are involved with the Dream Act.

      ” spoke to some lawyers and they said she can file for false documentation and misrepresentation,”

      Misrepresentation is a ground of inadmissibility that USCIS charges an applicant with and so to overcome that serious allegation, the applicant must request a waiver, there is no other way. You can’t just treat something serious like this as simply a matter of some other “back door” or tricky way that a lawyer has not thought about. The waiver is not easy to get as we discussed in “Top 10 Reasons Why Immigrants Get Visas Denied” (ground No. 4).

      To discuss this situation, consult with our office on a paid consultation as you probably did with these other lawyers or as if you were a regular client even if you are a lawyer. Our contact info is all over the blog and beginning and end of each article.

  21. pablo picard Says:

    hello this is my question my mom is marrying this nyc guy and we are from mexico im 19 years old i want to know if theres a problem to get me a green card because of my age or my situation

    • There is not enough information from you for us to say much. The biggest thing is if this man your mother is marrying is a U.S. citizen or only a permanent resident. Also, you didn’t state whether you’re here in the U.S., or still in Mexico, or if you’re here, how you entered the U.S., with visa or illegally? Please call our office on Monday at +1 310.289.2155 or email: consult@GuruImmigration.com for a paid consultation and your questions can be answered.

  22. Hi, I’m an au pair with a J-1 visa, and I suppose to leave US by march 26 ’10 how long do I really can stay after my j1 visa expired? and I’m planing to married a friend but she is older than me, 23-43 this detail is going to give me some trouble by the time to apply for my green card?

    Thank you very much! gbu.

    • First of all, you came with a visa so your comment should not really be in this article because you’re not “illegal.” Now, usually a J-1 is subject to a 2-year home residency requirement. That is, they must go back to their country and live for at least 2 years before they could even apply for any kind of green card or permanent residency to the U.S., or even an H-1B temporary visa. You should already know about this residency requirement because they (U.S. consulate in your country and in the J-1 visa application) always warn J-1 applicants about this when they got that visa. It’s surprising that you don’t seem to know about this. If the residency requirement applies to you, the marriage will not do any good until you go back and live for 2 years. It will take a lot of effort and professional help to apply for a waiver to waive that requirement. That waiver is difficult to get, but do-able, but only a lawyer can help you. Sometimes a J-1 does not have that residency requirement but only a lawyer can be sure. Contact our office for our fees.

  23. Dear Larry, I called earlier. I have a question what if I can’t pay the consolation through PayPal? Do you take credit cards or money orders?

    • Maria, we do take credit cards through Paypal! They process all our credit card orders, even from outside the U.S. There is a link in our private email to you that will allow you to go to the credit card page and enter all the card’s info. Thanks!

  24. Hi Guru ji,

    Here I am bothering you again, just like I say I am living in this country since 1984 and I had work-permit once buy asylum case which I apply for 1990 and after that they take it away after five years, I have have same S.S number been issue from this S.S card, so what do you think If I have any chances to get a Green card, don’t you think after 24 years almost most of my life living here and still paying all the taxes since then…

    Thank you in advance for your great advice..


    • As we told you months ago, you can live here a lifetime and still don’t qualify for a green card unless there is another amnesty. It all depends on whether you qualify under the current immigration law or not.

      For other people who might be reading this response to your comment, there is no need to ask us questions more than once thinking there are some new “tricks” or angles in your case. If there are options for an immigrant, the excellent lawyers at our law firm in a consultation would have already suggested them to you the first time if you provided the appropriate facts about your background.

      A consultation is the only way to go because the lawyer needs to have all the appropriate and relevant facts about your background and history before the correct solutions can be advised. On this blog, it’s impossible to do that.

  25. Dear Mr. Doan (I believe that’s your last name-Larry Liem Doan),

    I’m terribly sorry to bother you at asking the following questions, but I very much need them answered. Here’s the situation- This 16 year old girl comes to the U.S at the age of 10. She’s here Illegally has a relationship that has lasted for about a year now. She and her boyfriend are planning on getting marry, that is once they turn 18 and finish High School. They are madly in love.She’s an honors student and hopes to attend college. I don’t know if their relationship will last and they will get marry once they turn 18. If it does, I understand she’d have to go back to her country, once she marries him, in order for her to be able to get her Green Card. Would the 3-year/10-year ban be apply to her?

    Another thing I’m concerned about is that they might break up. She wants to finish High School, if she goes back to her country before 18( or before being 18 1/2)and applies for a student visa would she fall into the category of the 3-year/10-year ban? Due to her being already in the U.S. Illegally?

    I would delightedly appreciate your reply,Thanks.

    • Maria, you apparently have already grasped the answer yourself as found in the article. Yes, it is true that as long as she leaves prior to being 18 years and 181 days old, she will not get the 3-year bar against her and will be able to apply from her country for whichever visa type she would qualify for at that time (whether a permanent visa through marriage to a US citizen or a student visa).

      Of course, 2 years from now, the law might have already changed and these bars removed. Let’s see what happens.

  26. What’s up everyone, I’m brand-new to the forum and honourable wanted to approximately hey. hi like manipulate to know fresh pepole and share in bits with them

    father a happy year

  27. Hello. I came here on March 2001 when I was only 12 years old. I did not know anything at that time. My father, I and my sister trusted in my aunt who promised to handle everything for us. She said that she adopted me and my sister and applied a green card for my father. We did not find out until later that she only applied for my father and believed by doing so we are automatically legal. We came here on tourist visa and it already expired. My father was recently asked to send in his birth certificate and got a notification that he will be ask to make appointment for the next step soon. My question is that how long will it take for him to get a green card. And afterward, will I automatically get it as well? I read some forum and they said that once the child is over 21, the parent will have to apply for the child afterward. Right now I am facing a lot of trouble and want to drive. I also cannot apply for school. Is there anything I can do to adjust my status at this point? And how about the permanent resident thing, is it possible for me to get it? I am also looking for a lawyer that will take up my case if my case is possible.

    • When a person is 21 and over, he or she is no longer considered a “child” under the immigration law and will not benefit as a derivative with the parent. That person would be in a different category and a different priority, making things a lot longer. However, it seems you are still only 20 years old, and in some circumstances even if you’re over 21, you may benefit from a special law to make you remaining a “child.” We would need to consult with you, especially to inspect the paperwork that’s already been done, to see if there is anything that can help you now. Since you’re in the LA area, please give us a call at 310.289.2155 and then you can come in our office in Van Nuys for a consultation. There is a reasonable consult fee.

  28. Rosa Martinez Says:

    Primarily I would like to give thanks for such accessible and informative information at such leisure.

    While reviewing my personal situation, and the situations of others, a question has come to mind that I am unable to accurately verify

    My mother’s father filed the I-130 form prior to April 30, 2001 for her (my mother) and it was approved. However, my mothers lawyer prompted that he (my grandfather) filed the form in absence of her children (meaning, she filed as: “Single with no children”). Recently I began my immigration research only to find out that I need to be added as daughter (which I am) to my mother on the form, making so that it would read: Single with children. Is this process possible, and if so, what would be the steps I would need to take in order to begin the process.

    My current status is married to a American (U.S.) Citizen, and my family arrived illegally.

    • Rosa, you should ask your mother’s lawyer to fix the situation. If that lawyer is unwilling to do it or does not know how, you should retain us to do it since that I-130 petition is what you would need to immigrate, being that you came illegally. Please call at +1 310 2892155 or email: Lawyer@GuruImmigration.com.

  29. Now all is clear, many thanks for the information.

  30. hi, i got married and got my green card for two years, my wife turn out to be pretty bad, she is in jail now, becouse we did not were married for a long time i don’t really have enough proof ob being married in good faith, i may not get my green card for 10 years , my cuestion is , after i divorce my wife , if a get married again could i get a green card again. thanks a lot.
    hope someone can help me.

    • How do you know for sure you don’t have enough evidence of a good-faith marriage? A professional may have a different opinion. We may be able to help you on the case to remove the condition on your conditional green card; no need to marry a U.S. citizen again. Please contact us for pricing and details, no matter where you are in the United States. We are a nationwide-service law firm. Call 310.289.2155 or email, Lawyer@GuruImmigration.com.

  31. hi,

    am 17 years old and planning to et married with my boyfriend wich he is 18 am ilegall in the u.s if we get married would i be able to get my green card? or would i have to live the country been still a minor?

    thanks i will love if someone reply’s back (:

    • Ximena,

      Assuming that by “illegal” you mean you came to this country without a visa or without inspection (like the persons described in the article), then you can get your green card but only at the U.S. consulate in your home country. So you’ll have to travel back there and go through the process, which could take a month or two of waiting there. The good news is that, as stated in the article, there would be no 3- or 10-year bar against you unless you wait until you’re past 18 1/2 to leave the U.S. to do this. Also, there’s an issue with whether the marriage is for real since you’re so young. But that’s why you should have good immigration attorneys handle your case since it can be very tricky and you could lose. Call us at 310.289.2155 or email: Lawyer@GuruImmigration.com.

  32. Hi, my wife is a green card holder. Were married last 2007 before my visa expires on the 2008. We filed the papers same year 2007.We received a notice of receipt from the USCIS. Now my visa already expires last 2008. And we checked on the immigration they process the papers of 2006. My question is that can i still travel by plane anywhere in the US using my valid Philippine passport with my expired visa on it? Are they going to find me a state ID? i cant have my state ID yet cause they need a social security number and what i have is only the Tax Identification Number from the government. Are they going to check on my US Visa when i’m in the airport? Some says that i still can travel by plane because what they check is only my passport with my photo on it. thanks. Hope to hear from you soon.


  33. I have read and read the information youve given and I still feel so lost.

    Im Canadian. I came into the US legally. But have lived here since 2004 which I believe makes me illegal.

    I engaged to be married. And Im obviously going to need a lawyer. But whats the first steps after we marry? Does the ban count for me? Am I going to have to go back to Canada??

    • The article above is for people who came illegally and so does not truly describe your situation since you came legally and are out-of-status now, not an illegal entrant. We can help you with the complete case. Contact our office at 310.289.2155 or email, Lawyer@GuruImmigration.com, for rates. We can help you even if you’re in Texas and assuming you’re marrying a US citizen, not a green-card holder.

  34. First of all thank you for your valuable time for answering my question.Well, I came here as a student in December 2005.I have a 5 years of Visa permit.I went to school for abt four semester but in 2007 i got pregnant with my boyfreind.We are not married.he is a greencard holder.As i got pregnant i couldn’t further my studies because of my financial situation, but i really wanted to start my study and want to be in status once again.Am i elegible to be on my boyfreind’s depentant visa by marrying him? plz help!! Thank-You.

  35. I currently have an F-1 VISA, I’m studying in OK for 2 years now. I plan to “quit” my university and go to NY. After 5 months with no classes, my visa would not be valid anymore, right? It expires on JUL/2011. If I move to NY and stay away from classes, will I be consider illegal? Will I have to wait for the barrier time to come back? I’ll have 11 months after I quit, 5 to “lose” my visa and 6 more? Thanks!

    • This is not easy to answer because there are many uncertainties. The F-1 is a “D/S type” of visa, meaning “Duration of Status.” There is not a definite date of departure. You would not be out-of-status technically until an immigration officer or immigration judge makes a finding that you were not attending classes so out-of-status, and that can only happen on a new benefit application such as extension or change of status. So, for the purpose of the 10-year bar, you might not have the bar, but it is not advisable to not be in classes like this. This would have to be explained to you verbally over the phone in a consultation. Too complex of a subject, and too dependent on what your intentions will be in the future. Call us at 310.289.2155 for a paid consultation or by email: Lawyer @GuruImmigration.com.

  36. hello my question is i came in usa july2000
    thing is when i come to usa i dont have i94 i enter illegly now i just got married my wife is us citzen can she help me out with getting grean card or any other way or i have to wait until obama pass any new law if he is so can you please let me know how long it will take thanks

  37. hi!
    I came to usa with f1 visa.then i changed f1 to m1 visa for 3 years.I am in process for green card trough employer(EB3).unfortunatly i m not going to get it because i couldn’t change M1 visa to anything.I m planing to marry my boyfriend who has green card.he will get citizenship at the end of 2010.Can we get marry if I m illegal for few months???(my lawyer told me that i can stay 6 months “Illegal” to wait for my priority date on visa bulletin.after that i have to go home and wait from there).Can we file papers together?When he file for citizenship and me for green card??Thank you so much

    • What your lawyer said about the six months is only true if you’re continuing with the EB-3 route and attempt to adjust status that way. When a citizen (and not a green-card holder) petitions for his spouse, unlawful presence is waived (you’re not an “illegal” as discussed in the article, by the way). It is somewhat surprising that the lawyer didn’t realize that: maybe not as good a lawyer as they would seem. Sorry, but we cannot provide further info on this unless you change lawyers by contacting us. You can do so by phone at (310)289-2155 or email, Lawyer@GuruImmigration.com.

  38. hello
    i want to know how long obama will take to pass any immigration law thanks

  39. hi i was brought here when i was 3 4 years old illigaly now i am 19 years old attending collage and im getting merried with my girl friend that i been with for 5 years do i have a case if yes how long dose the prosses take? and thank you for your time

    • It was stated in the article you just read:

      Also, we get asked all the time whether a child “brought” here by his or her parent “unwillingly” is considered to come here illegally. The answer is yes, there’s no excuse! If the child crossed the border without inspection (illegally) with his or her parents or other people, the child will have the 3- or 10-year bar be an obstacle now, unless he or she leaves the U.S. by their 18 1/2 birthday and is trying to apply from overseas.


      It usually comes as a shock when we tell these people that even though they are married to a U.S. citizen, they still must go back to their homeland to obtain final approval to return permanently to this country, unless they had a previous immigrant petition filed for them by April 30, 2001.

  40. I am a U.S. Citizen and my wife was filed a petition by her RESIDENT father in 2004. She received a Notice of Affidavit of Support Fee. Should I ignore the letter and start my own process with my wife?

    p.s. my wife came to the U.S. as a child.

    • You didn’t say so but it seems your wife came here illegally and because you posted a comment on this article about illegals (unless you post a follow-up that she did not). There is no excuse even if one came illegally brought here as a child. As clearly discussed in the article, your wife does not qualify for anything here unless she goes back to her homeland and risks the 10-year bar. That is the case no matter what petition she’s proceeding under now, her father’s petition for her in 2004 or your brand-new petition for her today. Unless she had another petition filed for her on or prior to April 30, 2001.

  41. I came to this country when i was only 4 years old,i am now 21, unfortunately i came to this country illegally with a different name. Everyone in my family are u.s. citizens. What i want to know is if it’s possible for me to get a green card here and not have to go back to my country. It wasn’t my choice to come here, i had no choice but to come with my mom. My girlfriend is a citizen and i plan to marry her, so i hope i dont have to go back

    thank you all,

  42. C.R. Sharma Says:

    I’m in united states for almost two 2 years now. I came here on F-1 VISA Jan 2008. After last fall quarter i could not continue my study because of funds problem. And i’m stuck here now. I can’t even go back. Meanwhile I meet up with this girl (American citizen) and we are ready to get married. What are the chances for me to get married and gain permanent residence. I was too afraid of my situation so thats why i didnt even discuss anything with nobody at my university. It seems like i have to leave this country if i don’t have anyway. What penalties and other things occur if you over stay(I got visa for 5 years, but couldn’t continue my study). If students cant adjust their status and overstay, can they ever apply again for US VISA? Please help me i need to start the process. Thank you very much

    • With original entry as an F-1, even though you’re not in school, we can definitely help you since you do qualify for green card filing here. Please call us at 310.289.2155 or email Lawyer@GuruImmigration for more information.

  43. hi my name is april i am married to a hispanic and i want to get him legal we have been married for almost 4 years we love each other lot and i have gone to mexico to meet his family and would like to know the steps around getting him legal and does he have to go back to mexico he has been here for like 11 years and has never been in any trouble please get back to me

    • As explained in the article, if his entry was illegal and he had no previous petition for him by April 30, 2001, the only way to get his legal papers is to go back to Mexico, but that will subject him to the dangerous 10-year bar. Some people will take that chance (it can be a crapshoot), others won’t.

  44. Hi Larry,

    Great article, love the clear info that you wrote. My wife and I had been married for 7 years and had 2 children in the US. I a naturalized citizen and she came here illegally. Our story is basically the same as the article you wrote. I want to know is there is any other way of getting her a green card with out leaving the US. I know the “extreme hardship” is one but there is no way of me to prove and wating for Obama is going to take forever. Also could you clarify something that if you stay here for 10 years, you could file a petition for a green card. Thanks for helping, hope to hear from you soon.

    • Thanks. It’s nice to be complimented by another Larry :) If there were another solution, you can be sure it would have been discussed in the article. And no, staying here for 10 years without leaving the U.S. does not entitle one to a green card because that’s what millions of illegals have been doing: they can’t do anything about their illegal status and are trapped in limbo (until maybe a new amnesty).

  45. My wife entered the US legally on H1B but never worked on H1B visa. I became US Citizen after few months she entered the U.S. and we got married after that. I applied for her green card and EAD card. At the time of Green card interview, officer asked her why she never worked on H1B. We have 6 months old son born in U.S. Her green card was not approved because the USCIS officer said that her intention to come to U.S. was never to work on H1B and the lawyer applied for waiver for extreme hardship, which got denied as well.
    Please advise if i should file for new green card for her. My point is she entered the U.S. legally and is married to U.S. in good faith for 2 yrs. Her home country is India and she have not seen her parents for almost 3 yrs. Please advise if i should apply for green card asap.

    • Well, technically we cannot “advise” you (you used that term at least twice). You and your wife are not our clients (yet) unless we enter into an attorney-client agreement with fee payments made. You are still another attorney’s client and only that attorney can advise you unless you’ve discharged him or her already. You’re just asking for some general information on the internet by posting your comment on this blog. As you were undoubtedly told by your lawyer, you can try applying again in removal proceedings since USCIS is probably moving quickly to put your wife into those proceedings. Any further second opinion requires a paid consultation or have us take over the case for that lawyer.

  46. hi Larry,

    I knew what you have said about this 10 year ban thing.. I was just wondering I came over with my family when I was 6 and we went in the process to become citizens I don’t know If we did it right but we got work permits social security cards driver license. I went to school. And about 3 months ago after 11 years of our case pending we got volunteer deportation. I left and now my girl friend who is an American citizen is coming to Mexico to marry me. Do I still have the ten year ban even If I left on my own when they told me to. And was brought to the use and wasn’t my fault?

    • I get this question all the time and the answer is: there’s absolutely nothing in the law that excuses from later consequences a child who’s brought here illegally, except that time spent in the U.S. illegally under the age of 18 does not count. Also, it’s not “voluntary deportation”: it’s “voluntary departure.” The 10-year bar is not applicable to you IF you left the U.S. on time according to the promise you made to the judge AND you left before the age of 19. If after 19, then yes, the 10-year bar applies to you.

      Guru Larry

  47. Hi Larry,

    I married my wife over 2 years ago. Unfortunately right around the time of our engagement she was put into removal proceedings(not sure why, but possibly because her father filed for adjustment of status a few years ago while he was a temporary resident). We got married 1-2 months later. She came to the US through Canada without inspection when she was 6 months old, she is now 21. Before 2001, her Uncle(father’s brother) filed for her father’s I-130. I am not sure what the status on this is because we could not get an official copy from USCIS. I believe he was approved for the I130(since he is temp permanent resident), but later tried to file for green card, and the application became complicated.
    Our current lawyer has told us that my wife is eligible for an adjustment of status through our marriage because she was grandfathered into her father’s I-130.
    So far, my petition for her I130 has been approved. We filed for adjustement of status. The court proceedings were dropped, but the adjustment of status was not made in court because the prosecution could not obtain a copy of original I130. The case has been sent to USCIS and we have a green card interview coming up in less than a month. I am concerned that they will bring up her father’s I130. She should be grandfathered under it, but how can we prove that during the interview without the original. Whether it was approved or not, are we not still entitled to her adjustment of status under my petition. Would we need to bring an attorney to argue this for us?

    Thank You,

  48. Hi, I have a permanent resident status via marriage 2 a US Citizen. Before i got my green card status my DAD got a B1/B2 Visa (Tourist VISA) for 10 years to USA. He came to my marriage in December 2008 and he decided 2 stay in US. He’s I-94 Expired in June 2009. We apply for an extension of the I-94 but got denied. Is there any ways that i can apply for a green card for my dad. Is he illegal now in US.
    May be there is a way to apply via my spouse (US Citizen), my DAD being her father in LAW, she does not have a father at all, he died be4 she was born so on papers he doesn’t exist at all?

    I was reading that having a green card i can NOT apply for a green card for my parents.

    Also another point…..

    my DAD is an artist. Is it true that there is a possibility to apply for a green card just because u have SPECIAL ABILITIES witch he qualifies as being an artist, very talented ( http://www.alexandrumacovei.com )?

    Thank you in advance!

    • Yes, your father will be out of status and should leave as soon as possible (within a grace period they might give– maybe 10 days max after denial). If he remains in the U.S. out-of-status, he must take care not to be picked up and deported from the U.S., at least until you become a citizen. There’s no category for permanent residents to petition for parents, and no such thing as a person petitioning for their father-in-law. The only possible categories (besides “immediate relatives”) in U.S. immigration law are in my article “I-130 Approval Is Not Green Card“.

      By the way, the B-1/B-2 visa does not mean he can visit and stay for a 10-year trip! As you can see in his case, the I-94 is the governing document, which gives 6 months or less to a tourist. The 10 years just means he can use the same visa to apply for admission at the airport without having to use a new visa. But the actual length of the trip is 6 months or less (unless an extension is obtained, which was denied here).

      Special abilities require world-class talent, not just a talented, or good artist. But, he cannot get the O-1 visa here if he’s out-of-status, he would have to go back to his country and apply. This is not an easy visa to get. I can do the case but you would have to call my office to discuss pricing at 310.289.2155.

      Guru Larry

  49. Hi, I have read your postings. They are very helpful. Our story is similar but different. I want to know what options are left?

    Our story: I’m a citizen, I applied for my spouse and was denied. why? well, my partner had a prior denial from an asylum case. judge ordered voluntary departure. my spouse was under 18 at that time. my spouse came here legally, but now have been expired for over 10 years. we understand the 10-year bar situation, if we leave U.S. we can serve the 10-year bar at homeland and then re-apply. BIG PROBLEM. Homeland will not take my spouse, we have no avenue to apply to go to the homeland. What can we do? Living here is a big struggle, not quality life! Govmt make our life very hard, threaten us with jail & surveilance. only crime was my spouse came with her family as a child, over-stayed.

    crazy… my hard earned tax dollars go to the ICE monsters’s swolen pockets. what are the options?

    • Voluntary departure was a promise in front of the judge, in open court, to leave by a certain date. If that promise was broken, then there’s consequence, even if the person was, unfortunately, a child. The consequence is that the broken voluntary departure turned into an automatic removal (deportation) order against her. She cannot get anything approved until she spends time outside the U.S. for at least 10 years. Parents are presumed to do what’s best for their children and to follow the law so that their children will not have consequences later.

      Homeland will not take my spouse, we have no avenue to apply to go to the homeland

      It’s really not clear what “homeland” you’re talking about. Are you saying her native homeland will not accept her as a returning deportee? If so, what country is that (only a few countries have this policy)? Or are you saying the U.S Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will not take her into custody and put her on a plane?

      Guru Larry

      • well let’s just say the homeland will not give travel docs to the deportee. DHS cannot get them either, it has been a long time. are there other options?

        • At first we had no idea what you were referring to, and then we saw that you posted a comment about this almost three weeks ago. And now, you again did not clarify what you meant by “homeland,” which you were asked to clarify. Nothing can be suggested until you write something more intelligible.

  50. First of all I am a US Citizen, now my wife came to the United States when she was 3 years old from Mexico illegaly, we talked to the immigration lawyers and they said that she would not be able to qualify for an “adjustment of status” because she came here illegaly and therefor she would have to obtain her visa from the U.S. consulate in Juarez, Mexico. My question is, is she still considered illegal even though she came here well before she was 18 years of age?

    According to the INA § 212(a)(9)(B(i)(I) her unlawful presence in the U.S. when she was under 18 does not count since it is not fair to punish a minor for actions of the parent.

    • No, anyone who comes in without inspection even if they’re a 1-minute old baby is considered an illegal entrant or EWI (entry without inspection). INA § 212(a)(9)(B)(iii)(I) only excuses the time spent in unlawful presence while the person is under the age of 18 for the purpose of the 3- or 10-year bar, but the person is still an EWI. If your wife is more than 18 1/2 years old then she has already accumulated more than 180 days in illegal status and is subject to at least the 3-year bar now. 19 years old and over and she’s subject to the 10-year bar. The other lawyers are correct, she does not qualify for adjustment of status here and would have to apply in Juarez, unfortunately.

      Guru Larry

  51. Hi ,
    My boyfriend came to US as F1 visa. Because his studying was not going well, he was suspended from school. He did not go to school for about 2 years. Then, he got married with his ex-wife, a US citizen. But they divorced before having an interview. The only form was filed was I130 which was approved. That’s it. Now after the divorce, it seems he does not have any status. Right ??
    Can he marry me (F1 student) now and get F2 status without leaving US ?
    Please let us know.
    Thanks a lot !!

    • No, unfortunately, he will not be able to file a change-of-status to F2 since he’s been out-of-status for so long. He would have to go back home to try to get it but will be subjected to the 10-year bar when he leaves the U.S.

      Guru Larry

      • If later on I have a green card and marry him, then will he be able to have green card ? Thanks !!

        • Yes, he can but that will be a long long road. He’s going to have to wait until you become a citizen (5 years after green card), before you could do anything for him and he’s going to have to stay in the U.S. out-of-status until that time. [Added: I’m assuming that he wants to adjust his status here and does not want to leave the U.S. and become subject to the 10-year bar at any cost.]

          Guru Larry

  52. im from spain, i came here to be with my boyfriend which now is my husband and i had a visa for 90 days to be in vacation with him here in the states, we decided to get married and so we did.
    now we are married but i havent had the option to apply for the green card firts because i didnt have my birth certificate here and second because i didnt have 1000 dollars to apply for the green card.
    now i have been here illegal 2 or 3 months and i dont know if i would be able to apply for the green card and if they would give it to me.
    and if i dont apply and i come back to spain would i be able to come to the usa?
    thank you so much

    • This article is not applicable to you because you did not come illegally. The simple answer is, you didn’t state whether your husband is a U.S. citizen but if he is, then yes, you can adjust your status here. If he is not a citizen, then no. If you go back to Spain, the 3- or 10-year bar will not apply to you unless you’ve been out of status more than 180 days.

      Guru Larry

      • yeah, my husband is a us citizen.
        so if i go back to spain before the 180 days of being illegal here nothing happens and i can come back to the united states whenever i want?
        thats awesome.
        im so glad i asked you, you are amazing, thank you for helping me and all of the people in this situations.

        • so if i go back to spain before the 180 days of being illegal here nothing happens and i can come back to the united states whenever i want?

          I didn’t say that. I said that the formal 3- or 10-yr bar that would prevent you from getting a visa back to the U.S., whether temporary or permanent, would not apply. However, overstaying is a serious thing, you cannot abuse that. You’ve already overstayed a couple of months, and when that is discovered at the consulate, you may not be able to get another visa since the U.S. consulate may not trust you in the future so soon. Or, the inspector at the airport may deny you entry on the visa waiver if he or she finds out you’ve overstayed before on visa waiver. You should retain our office to do adjustment of status to green card, since I see you’re in the next state over from California. Call 310.289.2155 and we can help you.

          Guru Larry

  53. Hi. My boyfriend came here from albania about 10 ys ago with a foreign exchange student on a j-1 visa. After he graduated from high school he applied to college and changed his visa to a F-1. 2 years into college, dropped out for economical reasons. Been here illegal for about 7 years. Now i want to get married to him. Would he have to go back to his country or is there any way we can get married without him going away?

    • This is actually an interesting situation because of the J-1 visa. If he had entered on a different type of visa before, I would say, no problem, he can adjust his status to green card here through you. But, the J-1 normally prevents a person from receiving their permanent residence (green card) unless they go back to their country and wait for at least two years. Here, he successfully changed status from J-1 to F-1 while still in the U.S., so it could be argued that the 2-year residency requirement does not apply anymore. However, it is only an argument. If the U.S. government does not accept that argument, either way, this case requires professional representation from us or another law firm to get a waiver of the requirement and can be quite complicated because it involves a difficult extreme hardship analysis and also dealing with the Albanian government. Otherwise, he will have to go back to Albania to get his green card, which as you know, will trigger the 10-year bar against him, as my article states. Please contact my office at 310.289.2155 for details on how to retain us.

      Guru Larry

  54. Hi, I am a US Citizen, my childhood was hard, a finaly member destroyed my childhood and later my former husband did drugs and got my 2 first kids away from us, after that i got married to a peruvian citizen who came as a tourist, we have 2 beautiful children, he had a denied asylum and appealed it, but while on that we hired a california lawyer Eduard Haase who took $3.000 from us to let the BIA know about our marriage and kids, bud this Atty withdrawn my husband appeal and let the final order of the Img. Judge and after Atty sent us a letter with the withdrawn lying to us he said the deportation was no longer a fact and sent us to infopass in uscis and when we got there to show the withdrawn they got my husband into custody and spent 1 month and a half in CCA San Diego and still fighting for him our new lawyer tried to get the case reopen, and got an remain out of deportation but a D.O got my husband into plane saying he would go to jail if not cooperate, after that my husband got back to his country and since then we lost our apartment our cars, everything except our love, then we got the money and passports to go and live with him in peru, but we got a letter from judge saying he ranted my husband be out of deportation but too late coz he was already deported so i went to ask for advice to another Atty who put drams in our heads about a Habeas Corpus and charged us 9.ooo to get my husband back, later after a month we got the money from family and friends with the promise that my husband will be back here but this atty change the case and said he d do an motion to re open and got the 9.000 as deposit so we had to exaust our remedies before filling the habeas, anyways, it didn’t work judge denied the motion and said clear my husband dint have chance coz he was going to get denied the case anyway, so we said no more waiting time we already had 1 year waiting, so we decided to live in peru, but our lawyer said we cant apply for the waiver, that we had to be in peru forever not even 10 years then we felt he was lying and trying to get our money we told him we no longer wanted to go for the habeas and asked him to refund the rest of the 9.000 and take the fee for the motion to reopen denied but after a month replied saying he didnt owe us money coz he spent so many hours of research, and kept our money, so i know i cant fight with a lawyer and he is a thief, he knows my husband is in peru and took advantage, please i just need to know if it is possible to get the waiver since we had to go on wellfare, and then got a job to survive and live with my dad has hepatitis c and my children are missing their dad also i have counseling for depression and filing for disability can all these proof hardship_ for God sake somebody help us with any ideas, please, i dont know who i have to go to ask for justice.

    • Not all lawyers are bad. Most of us are good and ethical. There are 50 different and good lawyers I see in court everyday representing clients being removed from U.S. with their clients there and you would say the same if you see them in action. Please call my office at 310.289.2155 for a fee consultation.

      Guru Larry

  55. Hi,

    I’m a Malaysian and have been in US for over 20 years haven’t been back and my passport has been expired. Currently I’m a US green card. I want to go to Malaysia for 2 weeks, according to the Malaysian immigration I need to renew my passport in Malaysia. I read one of the article that malaysian travel back to malaysian with expired passport, renewal will be defer for 2 years. (I’m not elegible to apply for US citizen yet) Is they way or any document I can apply to go and come back for 2 weeks?
    Any suggestion is great appreciated.

  56. My wife overstayed in the us more than 1 1/2 years. we are currently living in her country for more than 8 years and have a kid that is 8 years old. we haven’t tried to get a her visa or green card yet. since i am sure she will have a bar to entry until the next 2 years when we clear the 10 year bar of inadmissibility. is it worth it to start the paperwork now or wait out the two years and then apply? My family (usa) have never met our son and we are dying to all get to Disney. What do you think? Great blog, BTW.

    • You didn’t state what your status is but I will assume you are a U.S. citizen and not a permanent resident. The I-130 that you file for her for the immigrant visa (permanent residence) will take five or six months or more to approve, so it might be worthwhile to start now. With that I-130 approved, I would wait until the ten years are up (since you’re so close anyway) before applying for the immigrant visa, so that the 10-year bar will not be a problem.

      Guru Larry

  57. Hi Larry,

    I am an 18 year old Australian citizen and my father, who was a US permanent resident at the time had put in an i-130 application for me.

    I entered the US on a visa waiver in June and was married to a US citizen before my visa expired.
    My father has just become a US citizen a few days after my visa has expired.

    Is it best to submit an adjustment of status form as the spouse of a US citizen. (will it matter that I was married while I was legal but am now currently out of status?)
    Can I update my fathers i-130 and stay in the country while I wait for an appointment? without having to submit heaps of more expensive forms?

    Thank you

    • Since you’re only 18 the I-130 was converted automatically to that for an immediate relative when your father became a citizen. It would be easier to adjust through your father’s petition since you would not have to deal with the bona fide marriage issue. There’s a whole package of forms, it’s not just an adjustment form, and you should retain us to represent you to prevent mistakes and make the process goes smoothly. Call my office at 310.289.2155 to learn more about how we can do that, even if you are not in California.

      Guru Larry

      • Thanks Larry, I realize there is a lot more to it.

        But because I am married I am no longer an immediate relative? wouldn’t I have to leave until a visa number was available? if so and i just stayed anyway do you think that it would be a problem?

        That’s my only concern with going through my father instead of my husband.

        Thank you.

        • It seems to me that you’re a little confused by this. Whether you’re married to a USC or a child under 21 of a USC, you’re an IR. It does not matter. As for, “wouldn’t I have to leave until a visa number was available?” , a visa number IS available. There is no wait for a visa number for an IR.

          Guru Larry

          • I should have clarified the above. What I meant to say was that even if you’re not an “immediate relative child” of your dad because of your marriage (as you correctly asserted), you are still an “immediate relative spouse”, i.e., as the spouse of a U.S. citizen. You can still adjust your status now based on your husband’s I-130 petition for you since there is no wait for a visa number. Yes, you have to deal with the bona fide marriage issue but that’s not a problem if the marriage is real.

            Guru Larry

  58. My niece (by marriage) was denied her visa recently and told she would have to wait another nine years. She is subject to the rule governing the punitive punishment when you have been found and deported twice from the U S. The fact that she has married a US citizen (my nephew), done all the paperwork related to gaining a visa and yet was denied as stated just does not make sense, now wonder so many people come to this country illegally. IS there anything else she can do?

    • The fact that she has married a US citizen (my nephew), done all the paperwork related to gaining a visa and yet was denied as stated just does not make sense

      I’m not sure why it does not make sense to you but that is the rule. If after being ordered removed from the U.S. (deportation is an obsolete term) there are no consequences, so that the person can just walk across the border again, then why have a removal in the first place? It would be meaningless then. Being removed once subjects a person to a 10-year bar from reapplying while they must wait outside the U.S. Being removed once and then coming back illegally across the border before the 10 years are up, subjects the person to a lifetime bar. So, your niece is subject to an even worse bar.

      If you want to have an open border to this country, then that is a different discussion. However, that is not a practical concept. Even pro-immigration advocates do not support that.

  59. Hi,

    I filed waiver for my husband who was in USA illegaly for four years. We have a son together and waiver was prepared by Imigration Lawyer in Phx, AZ. he was denied!
    Now we have 30 days to file an appeal. Do you recomend that and what other docments we should add so we can change their decision?

    Thank you,
    Svetlana Tomovic

    • Svetlana, I would have to do a consultation with you for a fee since it sounds like you’re unhappy with your lawyer and wish to change lawyers. Call my office at 310.289.2155.

      Guru Larry

  60. Guru, I have been in America since the age of two,my mother got a lawyer that did not add me to the last life act that occurred a couple years ago, and i have no proof of entry, that was when i was 18. Now i am 27 my mother has since become a permanent resident and then a US citizen on December of 2008, when she applied for an I-130 for me in 2002 i had to wait for my priority date to become available and it has as of 2007 which i was never notified about even the millions of times that i called to check on the status of my case, but was then also told that i qualify for the child status protection act after the officer calculated everything, i then paid everything i had to pay to apply for adjustment of status and get a work permit, along with updating my sponsor and getting my vaccines again since the time made them expire, i got a letter for me to get my fingerprinting and biometrics done, after that a couple of months past and i received a work permit, i then applied for my social security card and received it in the mail. THEN I received a letter from uscis for an appointment for adjustment of status, I had everything they asked for,but was told that i have no proof of entry which i already knew, I am from Panama but do not have any family members there, all my family is in America, in different states of the country,the uscis officer called her supervisor and they were trying to help me think of any way to get proof of entry, my mother has already tried this but had to adjust under life act because she filed any paper that wld prove our proof of entry,uscis gave me a new appointment to return with proof of entry, but i know it cannot be found i tried everything. I then got a letter form uscis asking me to bring my passport and 3 passport style photos with me to a new appointment date.I would like to know what i can do, do you think they might give me a chance since they asked for passport style photos and my Panama passport? Can I be deported? My 2 kids are 6 and 8 and are American citizens though this may not matter. Also i have a fiancee that is an American citizen and I would like to know if marrying him would mess up any process that I have already started,we would like to get married but would this help me or make matters worse? I am now under my moms unmarried child of a Citizen status.Why would they give me a work permit if it may be taken away, please help me I am very afraid. Also i was told when i went for a follow up to briefly discuss my case that i would never get a work permit because i had no proof of entry so you can imagine all the shock when i got it in the mail one day out of the blue. Please help me. Thank you so much.

    • USCIS is simply giving you a chance to prove whether your entry was legal or not. They want to look at the evidence and if you don’t have sufficient proof of legal entry, you cannot adjust your status here and must leave the U.S. to get your green card. But everyone is making this too complicated: did you cross the border illegally or not when you were 2? If you just crossed without being inspected, you came illegally, simple as that. If there is no visa in that passport, you can look at the passport for a hundred years until you are blue in the face and that won’t prove anything about your entry 25 years ago.

      I don’t mean to be blunt, but I have to say it: you are not entitled to stay in the U.S. if your adjustment application is denied and you are illegal in the U.S. or out-of-status otherwise. If that is the case, of course you can be removed from the U.S. Having citizen kids does not necessarily protect you because families are removed everyday from the U.S. with kids. Ironically, you would have a fair chance of getting “cancellation of removal,” which is only available in removal (deportation) proceedings.

      Why would they give me a work permit if it may be taken away, please help me I am very afraid.

      Don’t place too much significance on having a work permit, it does not represent USCIS’s opinion on whether your adjustment case is good or not. A work permit is always given (if the person asks for it) while the adjustment of status application is pending (which could take months or years) and in the meantime, the work permit is granted because it’s common sense that the person has to to work while waiting here. But someone with an adjustment case that is eventually denied will have the work permit taken away.

      This is a complicated matter because of the involvement of the Child Status Protection Act and I cannot analyze it unless you consult with me with all the details. All I can say is that you may really need the CSPA and it may help you. Call my office at 310.289.2155 and ask to speak to Larry. I do take PayPal and credit cards for the consultation.

      Guru Larry

      • Thank you for replying, when I came it was on a plane and it was legal but my mom is unable to locate any of that information, when she came to America her sister took advantage of her due to her not knowing any better and told her “youre here now and have no need for those papers” her sister then threw them out.My mom was working and never received a check for months when she finally asked her boss about it her boss took her to her bank to show her that someone was cashing those checks.My mom not wanting to get her sister in trouble just quit her job moved and got smart real quick! I also wanted to know if I would have the option of leaving or remaining here illegal and waiting for President Obama to see if an amnesty will be in place or is that out the window for me and I have to get deported or maybe I could have a court hearing,also my fiance has sickle cell anemia (a painful disease) would this be some sort of hardship due to me being the only family he has and the only one to drive him around and take him to hospital,doctor visits and pick up his medication?

        • With your fiance’s special medical situation, you probably have a fairly good chance of getting the extreme hardship waiver approved in your country to get your permanent residence (after he becomes your husband), even if you cannot adjust your status here due to lack of proof of legal entry. His medical situation would also help you in removal proceedings in court if it ever gets to that stage. Amnesty would probably help longtime residents like yourself.

          Since you came on a plane, it is probably be easier to prove legal entry if you had access to your old visa records from the Department of State. That’s why hiring lawyers who know what they’re doing is invaluable.

          Guru Larry

  61. Hello Guru,

    I am living United States almost 20 years, and once I been issued a work permit in 1988 which I have to renew that for 5 years to get a green card when I approach my 5th year renewing it Immigration took my work permit from me and told me the case I filed is no longer exists, so all the peoples file under this case would not get green card.

    I ask the officer what would I do, she reply I have a wait immigration will send you later. I never received any latter from immigration since and I am paying all my taxes since.

    any suggestion?

    I really appreciate

    Thanks in Advance

    • It’s impossible to answer your question without knowing under what basis or category the work permit was issued under: asylum? adjustment of status? amnesty/late amnesty? TPS? NACARA? Etc., etc. A work permit is never issued on its own as a standalone; it is always issued as a side benefit to a main benefit that you were applying for (like the ones I’ve just listed). Also, when they “took away” your work permit, they issued a notice. Read that notice. It explained the reasons why they did that, which unfortunately, people usually don’t read or if they read, it’s too complicated for them as laypersons to understand. If you tell me, I could see whether it’s extremely quick to answer this or you would need to consult with me.

      Guru Larry

      • I thank you so very much for your quick reply my work permit issued amnesty/late amnesty and I have to renew this for 5 years(according to Immigration) I did not received any later from Immigration, by the time when I was in immigration office for renew they ask me to wait till you received a latter I think I get my work permit in 1992 or 1993 I don’t even remember the year at this moment. and my social security number issued because of same work permit which I am been using since then.

        thank you sir


        • OK. You probably don’t need me to tell you that the original amnesty program was a long long time ago and if you got the work permit under that program in 1992 or 1993 and lost it, you’ve been illegal again since then. If you had moved quickly enough back then to get your temporary residency (leading to permanent residency), then something might have been possible way back then in the mid-90s. But now, 15 year or so later, there is nothing you can do in regard to amnesty except to wait for a new amnesty from Obama.

          • I thank you so very I was so young back then and scared.

            so do you think any thing will going to happen like Amnesty soon?

            thanks in advance


          • Only time will tell.

          • First of all allow me to thank you so very much again to take time and answer my question and I really appreciate it. My last question is that GURU I am planing to move back to my native country because all my love ones dying one by one with the time. do you think my company can sponsor me from there later on???

            Thank you


          • As soon as you step foot outside the U.S. you are subject to the 10-year bar (since you’ve been out-of-status for so long) so it does not matter who sponsors you, whether a company or a spouse. You may not be able to come back for 10 years.

            Guru Larry

  62. Hey Larry,
    first off i want to say thanks for your honesty and willingness to disclose information without expecting anything back. This really is a tough subject and its hard to get an honest answer sometimes when a lawyer wants to charge you for every meeting and consultation.

    I myself am an illegal immigrant from mexico who came at the age of 4 back in 1988. fast-forward 20 years and here I am still trying to live out the american dream. I haven’t been back to mexico since leaving and have grown accustomed to my american life. I was raised here and cant even fathom leaving the country to live in mexico. I have no family that i know of in mexico and all of my immediate family is here in the states.

    Me and my boyfriend have been dating for a little over a year now and have been living together for about the same time. He’s a US citizen and we plan to marry this up-coming spring 2010. I have been doing so much reasearch over this 10-year-bar thing that i’ve basically scared myself off from getting married.

    My question to you would be, should i continue to get married this spring and go through with the paper work or should we really just wait for the Obama admistration to change the law on this 10YB? And do you REALLY think there is a good chance Obama can get rid of this 10YB.

    your input would be greatly appreciated Larry.

    Thanks in advance,

    • first off i want to say thanks for your honesty and willingness to disclose information without expecting anything back. This really is a tough subject and its hard to get an honest answer sometimes when a lawyer wants to charge you for every meeting and consultation.

      Thank you. I want to simplify immigration law and educate the public. However, as my policy explains, I do charge for a consultation for anything that is more than most simple questions that have already been covered in my blog posts.

      As for your question, whether to go through and take the risk of getting or not getting approved for the extreme hardship waiver is up to you alone to decide. There is a roughly 50-50 chance of it getting approved so you may feel the odds are good enough for yourself. There is no way for me or any lawyer to give an informed opinion without analyzing all the circumstances of the lives of the two of you to see whether Juarez will grant you the waiver or not. That will require a consultation. As for amnesty, I’m not a betting man but would say it’s 50-50 right now whether we will get amnesty at all next year under Obama. It’s not going to be easy to pass that if the economy continues to be poor next year. But, who knows?

      Guru Larry

  63. Margaret-Ann Says:

    Hi there:
    I have a friend who is an illegal mexican and has been here 20 years and her husband. He has a US Green card. They have 3 children who were all born here in the United States.
    How can she obtain a green card or status to live her legally based on her marriage and children being US citizens?

    • The article you just read explains it all: she cannot become legalized here if she came to the U.S. illegally. It is as simple as that, except for a by now fairly rare exception of someone else petitioning for her prior to April 30, 2001 (which is probably not the case).

      Actually, her situation is even worse, unfortunately, than the boyfriend/girlfriend described in the article who’s marrying a U.S. citizen since she is married to “only” a green-card holder, who has a lower priority than a U.S. citizen. See I-130 Approval Is Not Green Card! or What to Look for When Your Green-Card Holder Helps You Immigrate. Even if her husband applies for her today, she’ll have to wait about another 5 years to even be allowed to go to Juarez (due to lack of visa numbers in the F2A category) to attempt to get her papers, which of course, will subject her to the 10-year bar. Definitely not an easy road under the current condition of the law. Maybe things will change with amnesty or reform.

      Guru Larry

  64. SOrry and also I can not clearly financialy support my self and child. I would assume I could also get a professional to declare how my son would need him and so forth. Just a thought, also because of his illegal status it makes it difficult for him to get jobs and if he was legall he could and I may delcare my self bankrupt in the upcoming weeks. What do you recomend??

    • Thanks for visiting my blog. All those who came here without inspection by crossing the border is considered to have come illegally. You cannot help a partner or boyfriend, you can only help a husband. So, as explained in my article, I can represent you to file a petition for your husband but he is going to have to go to back to his country and get his papers there (assuming he did not have a petition filed for him by April 30, 2001 by another relative), and with a 10-year bar looming against him. To overcome the bar, he would apply for the extreme hardship waiver at the consulate. Even though there’s roughly a 50-50 chance to get approved, as shown in my latest blog post, some people just think the odds are not good enough, so they won’t take the chance. All of you would have to decide as a family whether the risk is worth it. If you decided to do it, I can put together an excellent extreme hardship waiver package for him, which includes hardship to you in raising your son.


      Guru Larry

  65. HI, I currently have a 2 year old son with my partner of 3 years and have just gotten my citizenship. We are not married but I want to know what is the best way to approch for filing for him to become legal. I know since he is here he can not apply for the fiance visa but if he were to leave could he then apply?? And he entered the us at 15 years old now 25. Is there anything that can help since he did not enter under his own will??

    Thank you!

  66. dear larry,

    me and my husband have been together for 3 years and married for 2 in january. he has been in this country illeagly for 10 yrs. he has 2 kids in guatemala and they want to see their father. i dont want to stop him from going but im scared if he goes i’ll never see him again. he is my life and i wanna try to find away to help so if he goes there he will return what can i do? i don’t even know where to start.

    • Thanks for visiting my blog. As my article makes clear, I can represent you to file a petition for your husband but he is going to have to go to Guatemala City and get his papers there (assuming he did not have a petition filed for him by April 30, 2001 by another relative), and with a 10-year bar looming against him. To overcome the bar, he would apply for the extreme hardship waiver at the consulate. Even though there’s roughly a 50-50 chance to get approved, as shown in my latest blog post, some people just think the odds are not good enough, so they won’t take the chance. All of you would have to decide as a family whether the risk is worth it. If you decided to do it, I can put together an excellent extreme hardship waiver package for him to convince the consulate officer.


      Guru Larry

      • It dsnt make sense that why in the world that you are going to let her husband go back home to guatemala to get his papers that he is already here dude.

        No need to go back home just to get your papers yet you are already here. You should get your papers here in the US instead.


        • Albert, why doesn’t it make sense? Just because you don’t like something in the law so therefore it does not make sense? That’s the way the law is if he’s an illegal entrant. Don’t you think that if somehow there were an easier way for him to get his papers here that I, or other lawyers, would have already described that method?

          As I explained clearly in the article, people cannot adjust their status (get green card) here if they came illegally unless they had some family or employment petition filed for them by April 30, 2001. A lot of illegals don’t have that luxury to have something filed that long ago for them. They simply cannot get legalized here. There is an article for people who could get their papers here through a family or employment petition, and that’s found here.

          Perhaps you could suggest to us on the blog how her husband could get his papers here without going back to Guatemala. I’m all ears.

          Guru Larry

          • I dont have anything to suggest. thats my opinion


          • Well, thanks for being honest. I don’t like the 10-year bar as much as anyone else, I’ve stated so on here. But, unfortunately, we’re stuck with it for now, and hopefully, we will overturn that law next year or the year after.

  67. hi larry
    would it matter if the illegal person was brought here when they where a baby and have never stepped a feet in their homeland would this make a difference at all.

    • Absolutely no difference at all. That would be too easy of a loophole, people would have figured it out quickly long ago.

      By the way, how can a baby “never stepped foot” in their homeland if they were born there? Even if they can’t walk yet, they were born in their homeland and a citizen of that other country, not a U.S. citizen.

    • If you are flagged as an illegal, will you get arrested if you go try to get a msrriage license?

  68. hey larry i have a question, can I legally marry an illegal alien, i’m in love with my girl and am planning to marry her within a year or two. I just want to be married to her so she can have my last name and we are planning on having a few kids

    • In any state, any adult can, of course, marry another adult as long as neither party will be bigamous. Getting your illegal alien wife a green card (assuming she came illegally) so she can have legal status, however, is another story and not easy, as shown in my article.

  69. Great site…keep up the good work. I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks,

    A definite great read.. :)


  70. maricela alejo Says:

    I had a question.would it be better to file the I-129 or I-130. I want to marry my boyfriend who is illegal and has recently left back to mexico. can i marry him overthere and then file the I-130 fiance visa. Will that make the process faster if we get married?

    • You’re talking about the I-129F application for a fiance/fiancee, not the I-129. The I-129 is something else completely, such as for a U.S. company to sponsor for a worker. The I-129F is to bring a fiance/fiancee over to the U.S. to marry the U.S. citizen. The I-130 is for someone already a spouse. Unfortunately, as shown in my article that you read and are commenting to, since he was illegal and came back to Mexico, when he goes to the consulate they will find out how long he was illegal before, he’ll get the 3-year or 10-year bar applied against him. It doesn’t matter if he’s trying to come here again as your fiance or as your husband (doesn’t matter what application you file). How long had he been illegal before? No point in not telling the truth at the interview, because those consulate officers in Juarez are trained to spot lies, they have hundreds of these cases every week.

      • maricela alejo Says:

        hi larry,
        he has been illegal for nine years. and recently returned to mexico and plans on staying there for a while.but we do want to get married and he wants me to go to mexico and get married over there.

        • Maricela, you can marry him there in Mexico then come back here (he can’t come with you yet, obviously), and file the I-130 petition for him. When that is approved in about 6 months they’ll send the file to Juarez and call him for interview. But, the truth will come out that he’s been illegal for 9 years in the U.S. before coming back to Mexico. As discussed in this blog article, the 10-year bar will be applied to him, and the only way to overcome that is to get an extreme hardship waiver. As shown in my new blog article, “Top 10 Reasons Why Immigrants Get Visas Denied,” there is close to a 50-50 chance the waiver would get approved, and it involves demonstrating extreme hardship to you if you don’t have your husband with you. That’s the only way for him to immigrate.

          I wish you the best,

          Guru Larry

  71. First-rate Post.

    Thank you for the info.

  72. Hi Larry,
    Thanks for the reply. I wish nobody out there will make a mistake like me. My husband applied I-130 in October 1997 and was approved. I went with a friend of mine to the immigration and i was inquiring for EAD employment and that’s where i was caught. I was released couple of hours later and report to them every month.
    Since my departure to Malaysia on 30 December 1998, I have the copy of the letter sent by my lawyer to the USCIS in Atlanta that I have already left the country with the copy of my air ticket and boarding pass. Since my malaysian passport was expired, i travelled in an emergency passport issued by the malaysian consulate. I have the copy of that emergency passport as evidence. My only mistake here is that i did not go to the US embassy and report that I am back in Malaysia. I only went there after six month later. But I do have other evidence like i applied for a new passport in Malaysia in January 1999 and also travelled to Singapore within the last six month.

    Evidence to show at the consulate for new interview:

    1. Copy of the Emergency Passport that was stamped by
    the malaysian immigration that I arrived in Malaysia
    on the 1st of January 1999
    2. Copy of the air ticket and boarding pass
    3. All the malaysian passport (expired)from 1999 till
    2007. I became canadian citizen in 2007.
    4. Copy of the Form G-146 stating that i have left US
    on 30th December 1998 via malaysian airline and the
    subject report to the US embassy on June 30 1999.
    This form was signed by the consular at the US
    embassy in Malaysia.

    That’s all I have. Hope is evidence will clear me.


    • Shaloma,

      Well, your case is very instructive and has a little bit of everything that I’ve been blogging about. So, I will use it in a new blog as an example to help people avoid the same mistake.

      As far as your proofs of departure, even though the “official” method of verification of departure is, of course, to go to the consulate right away when you’re back in the home country, you seem to have all the other forms of evidence that you had indeed left the U.S. by the agreed-upon time, so you should be OK at the consulate interview.

      Thanks and best wishes!


  73. Hi Guru,
    I have a question on 10 year bar. I came to US on a tourist visa and overstayed. In 1997 i got married to LPR then. In 1998 i got caught in the immigration office and then i was released. I appeared before the judge and took a voluntary departure. In 1999 my husband became US citizen. My husband applied immigant visa and during the interview i was denied and applied waiver I-601 also denied. In 2001 I moved from my home country to canada and my husband got a job in canada. Now i am a canadian citizen. I never ever tried to enter USA at all. My 10 year bar was is over on December 31, 2008.

    Now I applied for immigrant visa I-130 and got approved. Now I sent I-864 and DS 230 Part I & II. My question is since i have already completed the 10 year bar, will i have problem this time. Do i need another waiver. Can the consulate reject me again. I paid the price for overstaying. My only mistake is overstaying. No other issues.

    I am little worried. I would appreciate if you could give me some advise on this issue.


    • The voluntary departure grant you received in 1998 (when in 1998? not clear) turned into an automatic order of removal when you failed to leave as agreed. However, you did not leave until 2001 (when in 2001? not clear), so you left the U.S. while a removal order was outstanding and so the 10-year period would run from 2001, not 1998. Your 10-year period does not expire until sometime in 2011. Yes, you will be denied by the consulate. However, you can try applying to USCIS for consent to reapplying for admission. That is, apply for permission to reapply! I know it sounds like a weird paradoxical phrase but that’s what it is. Applying for permission to reapply early. I recommend using a lawyer and my office could help you. Contact us at (310)289-2155.


      Guru Larry

    • Hi Larry,
      Sorry for the confusion. I came to USA on a tourist Visa in 1994 July. Got married to a LPR then in 1997 October. I got caught at the immigration in May 1998. Appeared before the judge in Sept. 1998 and granted voluntary departure. The judge gave me 120 days which will expire on December 31, 1998. Iwas waiting for my husband’s swear in coz he had his citizenship interview.
      since it did not take place in time I had to leave USA on 30th December 1998. I did not overstay the 120 days given by the judge.

      I went back to Malaysia and remained there since January 1st 1999. In May 1999 my husband became us citizen and he applied for immigrant visa for me and I had the interview on May 2000 and was denied because of overstay and itwas a 10 year bar. I appealed and was rejected the I-601. So in 2001 july my husband got a job in canada and I joined him here since then. I am a canadian citizen now.
      The 10 year bar starts from the day I left USA. I left on 30th December 1998 and i have already completed the 10 year which is 30th December 2008.

      I applied to the consulate here for the I-130 and got approved. Now have sent the second package which I-864 and DS230 part I & II. My question if someone has already completed the 10 year bar can they come back to USA. My husband wants to go back to USA. Will there be any issue. Can the consular turn me down again for the same mistake twice. I have no criminal records. Only overstayed.

      Appreciate all your help


      • Shaloma, now that you’ve clarified, it is clear that you’ve stayed out of the U.S. for more than 10 years now, so the 10-year bar due to unlawful presence of a year or more in the U.S. no longer applies to you. Once this is demonstrated to the consulate officer at the new consulate interview (with proof that you left by December 30, 1998), the I-601 should not be needed anymore.

        I appreciate your story because I am going to use it in the future as an illustration for what can happen when a person like yourself had an I-130 petition from an LPR spouse but did not maintain her status. I am curious though, you said, “I got caught at the immigration in May 1998.” Was that because you tried to apply for adjustment of status in April or May 1998 even though your priority date at the time (let’s say it was Oct. 1997 at earliest) was not current yet?


        Guru Larry

  74. Do you know the wait time for approval of I-130 for Permanent Resident filing for spouse in Ghana?


    • The State Department publishes each month the Visa Bulletin, which you can use to see where the current priority dates are for your petition, and which you can look up yourself to determine how many years of waiting you have approximately until a visa number is available. (If you don’t understand what “priority dates”, “current”, “visa number available” mean, then read my article “I-130 Approval Is Not Green Card!

  75. It dsnt make sense. Why you have to go back to your country to get your green card????When infact you are already here in the US.

    Michael Garfunkle says that you dont have to go back to your country to get your green card. And i think and beliv he is right.

    • You’re totally confused, man. Your comments from a few days ago said you came to the U.S. with a visa. The article above, “I’m Illegal…” does NOT apply to you. That article is for people who crossed the border illegally. The article that discuss people in your situation is “It’s Easy for Me to get a Green Card by Marrying My U.S. Citizen Boyfriend or Girlfriend, Right?” In the “It’s Easy for Me…” article, I showed how those who marry U.S. citizens AND came in with visas can get their papers here even if the visas expired a long time ago.

      As for the “I’m Illegal…” article, it is as basic as you can get with immigration law that if you crossed the border illegally you cannot get your green card here with the exception of petitions filed before April 30, 2001 that I cited in that article. See 8 United States Code section 1255(c) and 1255(i).

      Guru Larry

      • Nope im not confused that post there is my reply to this topic the “I am illegal” and yeah it does not apply to me.


  76. I actually live with my sister, and I know she would help with the joint sponsor but she is a employee for a immigration (federal) contracted service and I do not know if that will be a problem in another words she works at a immigration prison. As I am graduate student I apply for federal loans to pay school, can that help?

    • It doesn’t matter where your sister work. By the way, I should have stated the family size would be more than 3 since your sister must be added to the total to make it 4 plus any other dependent living in the household, so the income required will be even higher. Your loans are not income. I highly recommend you retain my help to do the fiance visa go smoothly, or there may be delays, which, unfortunately, do happen often when people try to do this on their own.


  77. Larry,

    Thanks for the info. I have a couple of questions, I’m an american citizen and I am 23. I am 7 months pregnant by my fiance who is a non-citizen. I am the only whose been going to mexico to visit him becuase he does not have a visa. He recently applied for the turist visa to be able to be in our child’s bith. He went to Tijuana, and was denied because of his age 24 yrs old. I am a student working on my master degree. I am currently not working because I only have two more months until I give birth. I was going to apply for the fiance visa but that might take up to 6 months and plus I need to have an income and I dont have any. Can you please advice me of what I can do?


    • It’s not easy to get a tourist visa for young Mexicans because so many just stay in the U.S. I don’t know what else to tell you since there is no other fast way. You might as well apply for a fiance visa, 6 months is nothing. You can use a joint sponsor as far as income required. That’s going to be around $23,000 for a family of three.

      Guru Larry

  78. hello. I am Anita. i have a boy friend. He is 20 and i am almost 18. We were dating one year. i love him so much! and we were planning, but yesterday i read that there is no way of getting legal papers. i am shocked. He crossed the border 2 years ago. He is working and paying all his taxes. He doesn’t have any tickets since then. He came here to help his family. his dad was sick and he needed an operation. So Francisco came here to get money. then his mother in Mexico died. And his 5 years old sister now alone with dad. he want’s study so much. But as i just knew he can’t even do that. Are all doors closed? i am still wondering if there is a way to get papers. i came here 2 years ago. we won a green card lotery with my mother. i don’t know what do do. Please HELP………HELP……..HELP…………it’s hard, i can’t just broke up with him, because of thet. I love him!

    • Unfortunately there’s no easy way as discussed in my article due to his illegal entry. Millions are in his situation who crossed the border without documentation. Maybe wait for amnesty.

  79. i am on student visa, still legal. can i get work permit by marring a my 2yr girlfriend a green card holder. thanks. Plus you are a great help for a lot of people.

  80. Larry,

    My girlfriend came to the U.S. from Mexico when she was just four. She is now about to be 17 and still has no papers, not even residency. I am wondering if there is any way for her to receive papers, I mean she had no choice in coming over here, she was so young, but she has grown up here, lived here all her life, in reality her homeland is foreign to her.

    • Cam, if your girlfriend were to marry a U.S. citizen even though she is at a very young age, she would still have to leave the U.S. and travel to Juarez, Mexico to finalize her permanent residence papers due to her illegal entry. Unfortunately, illegal entry cannot be excused even for children being brought over when they’re young. HOWEVER, I stated in my post above: “time living illegally in the U.S. while under 18 does not count.” So, the good news is that the 3-year bar would not apply to her if she leaves for Juarez by the time she is 18 years and 180 days. She will be interviewed by the consulate in Juarez to make sure the marriage is real, but that is a requirement in any marriage case. She does not have to try to obtain the extreme hardship waiver!

      Sometimes, people come to me and they’re not aware of or had forgotten that a U.S. citizen or legal resident close relative of theirs had filed an I-130 petition for them by April 30, 2001. If such a petition was filed for your girlfriend, then she would not have to leave the U.S. to get her papers through marriage under current law.

      Guru Larry

  81. Larry,

    Thank you for the great Article.

    I have just one question. My boyfriend entered the country illegaly. I am a citizen and we were thinking of getting married here. But after the whole thing about him going back and waiting to see if it’s going to take 3 years or if the 10 year bar applies to him also, we were thinking…

    Would it be better if we get married in his country and I do the petition for him in that country? Would the bar still apply? He hasn’t been here much time. So he hasn’t been able to do taxes or anything of that sort. What would you recommend?

    Thank you so much for your time and the article once again.

    • Melissa, please take a look at the article above again. I explain clearly there that he CANNOT get legalized here because of illegal entry. The only option is to risk the 3-year or 10-year bar and apply for the extreme hardship waiver. If he doesn’t want to risk it, then he will be living in the U.S. without documents and should wait for amnesty.

      Guru Larry

  82. Larry,

    what a great article! I feel so much better after reading it.
    I am currently illegal (my non-immigrant visa expired last year) but am planning to wed my fiance. We were both very worried about going through with the marriage as we were under the misconception that we would be “found out” when applying for a marriage license. I do have one question, when you mention a “bona fide” wedding, I assume you are simply referring to one that is legit. Not a big fancy ceremony and reception? My fiance and I are planning to get married by the justice of the peace this year and then have a full ceremony and reception next year. The only reason we want to approach the justice is so that I can get my paperwork rolling. No one, including my and her family will know about the court wedding. Will any of the INS representatives approach her family at all to verify the marriage? We don’t want anybody knowing about our decision.

    thanks again for the article!

    • J.D.,

      I’m glad you enjoyed my article and it’s making you less worried! You’re actually “out-of-status,” not “illegal.” I know, I don’t like the term “illegal alien” myself, but because it’s a widely-used term, I use it as a shortcut to refer to a person who has undocumented status in the U.S. Since you actually came with a visa, your situation fits into my previous post, which you might have read, “It’s Easy for Me to get a Green Card by Marrying My U.S. Citizen Boyfriend or Girlfriend, Right?”

      “I do have one question, when you mention a ‘bona fide’ wedding, I assume you are simply referring to one that is legit. Not a big fancy ceremony and reception?” Let me answer you this way. Imagine two people who married only for a green card but have a big and fancy wedding to pretend for photos, but who never really live together afterward. Now, imagine two people who have a real relationship and marry not because of a green card, but don’t have a lot of money and only have a civil wedding. Which one has a bona fide marriage? The answer is obvious. “Bona fide marriage” is not simply the wedding and ceremony but the entirety of the marriage relationship. Having a nice wedding and reception helps, of course, if you have a real marriage relationship, but it’s not a requirement. The law describes it as “a marriage not for the purpose of evading the immigration laws,” or “a marriage entered into in good faith and not entered into for the purpose of procuring the alien’s entry as an immigrant.”

      In the adjustment application for green card, various types of documents that an actual married couple would usually maintain together (such as joint taxes, joint bank account statements, photos, etc.) must be submitted so that USCIS can take a look and decide if it’s a real marriage. IF the evidence submitted with the application is weak and raises the suspicion of fraud, then yes, USCIS can conduct a field investigation in and near your claimed residence, and talking to witnesses, in order to verify that there is a real marriage.


  83. Cool site, love the info.

  84. Larry,

    Sorry let me explain my self better i came to this country when i was one, my mom after a couple years applyed for adjustment for a alien worker and include me and my brother after waiting for years.. and going to get shots, pictures, and signing alot of papers i cant rememeber much because i was young. We got a lot of letters in the mail from the uscis telling us were approved!!& then my mom left the country to go to italy because her mother was dying, and she had no choice at the time and she didnt return because. She thought she wasn’t allow back. and i had a boyfriend, so i returned back with a visa waiver program. about 2 years ago and over stayed my 90 days but then i got in the mail a letter saying that we were ready to get our fingerprints done. Well my mother wasnt in the country so i never thought i could go by myself at the age of 16.
    so i let it go. And now i figured it was gone my papers and i need to reapply. this is about 2 YEARS AGO, and now that i am turning 18 in october i figured i would marry my u.s citizen boyfriend after being with eachother and were ready i wanted to know if i need to reapply for adjustment.

    thanks alot larry, if i lived in cali i would deff come to your

    • Rita,

      OK, that’s a lot clearer now! Well, you’re right that without your mother being in the U.S. two years ago, it would not have made much of a difference if you had gone to take your fingerprints since she was the main applicant. By now that case has been terminated by USCIS due to abandonment, I’m sure. Anyway, with regard to now, I can definitely help you with your case, no matter where you and your boyfriend live in the U.S.! If you guys have been together for a while and get married, because you came in through visa waiver from Italy, it should be relatively easy. Please see this other blog post.

      However, I would still recommend that you have myself or another attorney near you represent you, if only to put an attorney’s name on the application forms and package to ensure the process goes smoothly. You will get a work permit within a month and half of filing. An interview will be in about five or six months. Obviously, I cannot be there with you during the interview unless you pay for my traveling time, which I don’t expect, but I will prepare you for it ahead of time.

      So, yes, if you get married, I can definitely do your paperworks!

      Guru Larry

      • Larry!

        Thanks for replying back, at all my posts.
        thats awesome you can do all my paperwork. I am waiting to turn 18 in october and getting married in november.
        i been looking for a TOP lawyer to do my paperwork and money is not the issue at all. I have plenty of it to do all the paperwork needed as long i get my green card i will be the happiest person in the world. American is a great country!
        i would like to know all the information needed and all the papers i will be filling and the cost of the papers. & i will like you to be my immgration lawyer and also have you there for my interview and i would pay for all the traveling cost.
        i really thank you for your time. And helping me if i could have your personal email so we could go on from there for my papers. That would be great! thanks larry


  85. Larry, that is wonderful information you have given everyone thanks, Well i am just like everyone else i came to america when i was 1 year old and my mom applyed for adjustment, for me and my brother and we got approved and my mom left the country because my grandma was dying. So i went back with her and i actually returned back in 5 months with no probelms at the airport. Because i had a boyfriend in the u.s. We been together for almost 3 years in nov of this year we love each other very much! i am turning 18 in october and we would like to get married. What will happen? can i marry him he is a U.S Citizen currently in college for law inforcement. and he is 22 years old. We live together and all. Now i am just worried about everything,
    since i got approved and almost went for my fingerprints but since i was 15 at the time i didnt leave the country. it was my mother who did? will it affect the fact i want to marry my u.s citizen boyfriend in nov?

    larry thanks for reading this and looking forward for some information =)

    • when i was 1 year old and my mom applyed for adjustment, for me and my brother and we got approved and my mom left the country because my grandma was dying. So i went back with her and i actually returned back in 5 months with no probelms at the airport….since i got approved and almost went for my fingerprints but since i was 15 at the time i didnt leave the country.

      Rita, glad you find my blog useful. However, as I quoted from you above, the way you described your situation is confusing. First you said you left the US and went back to your country for 5 months and came back, and then you said you didn’t leave the country. Also, first you said “we got approved” for adjustment, which means you guys already do have green cards, then the way you described it at the end sounds like you didn’t get approved (you “almost went for fingerprints”). Please explain clearly if you already have adjusted your status when you were one year old and so currently have a green card. I’m not sure what or if you even have an immigration problem. You might be doing just fine in this country!

  86. GrandmaGina Says:

    If illegal immigrants cannot become legal when they marry a US citizen why are they allowed to be married here. A friend’s son recently married an illegal immigrant and she had to show her birth certificate from El Salvador to get their marriage license. The laws should all go together. It makes no sense to allow p[eole to get married, have children and then send them back to their coiuntry of origin, if caught, fo a period of years.

    • Nobody’s forcing people to get married and have children. Marriage is regulated by the 50 states while immigration is regulated by the federal government. The states will marry anyone living in their jurisdiction who’s capable of marriage and could not care less what the immigration status of the couple is. And yes, hundreds of thousands of undocumented aliens get married to citizens here in California and in other states, even though that may not solve those people’s undocumented status problems. I don’t like the ten-year bar either, it is very harsh, but that’s the current law on the books, and if you don’t like the immigration law, you have to make your voice heard to your elected officials in the federal government, or elect new ones that feel the same way as you do.

  87. Hi

    I have heard many speak of this “waiver” of illegal status and right to file for a green card after ten years of illegal presence. To what are they referring when they speak of this 10 year presence exception. I cannot find anything that says you get to apply for a green card if you are here longer than 10 years. it seems to me that a lot of peopel would qualify for that. what is tis ten year thing about – i am a new to immigration work and have had a few alien clients come to me telling me that a lawyer has told them they could apply – what is this about?

    • I have heard many speak of this “waiver” of illegal status and right to file for a green card after ten years of illegal presence. To what are they referring when they speak of this 10 year presence exception. I cannot find anything that says you get to apply for a green card if you are here longer than 10 years. (italics added).

      Mary, I’m glad you brought this topic up in this way because it gives me a chance to clear up some misconceptions. Is this what some people and lawyers are saying out there? I can’t believe that! Actually, I can, because a reader from a couple of days ago also commented that his lawyer told him the same thing.

      You will not find such a “waiver” of the 10-year bar by remaining in this country. There are two ways to get around the bar. The first is if the person leaves the U.S. and then doesn’t apply for any readmission for ten years. Most people are unwilling to do that although some do. However, that’s not a real waiver at all because you’re separated from family for ten years! A waiver is to relieve the hardship and having to be outside the U.S. for ten years is a huge hardship, almost like death to some people. The second method is the extreme hardship waiver I discussed in the blog post, which also requires a person to leave the U.S. That’s a real waiver because if it gets approved by the consulate one can be readmitted sooner than ten years. I try to avoid giving legal citations on this blog but you should read INA section 212(a)(9)(B), in particular subclauses (i) and (v), for details on how the whole thing works.

      People who are potentially subjected to the bar do not have to leave the U.S. In fact, the bar is not in existence until they leave. But, the problem is, if they don’t leave, there is no way for them to get their permanent residence, or green card, through adjustment of status (unless they qualify under 245i as discussed in the blog post). That’s why it’s so crazy (and sad) for me to hear that some lawyers are suggesting that people can just stay here and apply for a waiver of the bar without leaving the U.S. There’s nothing in the INA for that. And you’re right, there are a lot of people in this situation, millions of them, in fact. Even though it is still the law, the bar is something I believe should be gotten rid of. It’s been creating a huge underclass of people who are stuck in this country, unable to do anything for twelve years, and that’s enough!


  88. Thank you Mr. Guru for the eye opening advice i did think this was too good to be true

  89. I just found this blog and im loving the info. but i have a question myself, first let me describe my situation. ive been here since i was 9yrs old that was since dec of 98, i entered the country illegaly (at that age i didnt even knew the action was illegal) short story long…. im currently enrolled in college and ive been married to a permnent resident for about seven months now. also shes already eligable to become a citizen we already hired an attorney that handles immigration cases. she advised us to file a form I-130 first and wait for the petition to be approved before my wife applies for citizenship. ive heard about the 3-10 year bar for immigrants applying for legal status. now this attorney asures me that since ive been in the country for more then ten years, and have not gotten myself into mayor trouble (other then traffic tickets), i will not face that bar. now thats hard to believe for me and i really hope she is right. what would be the next step? i would love to hear your opinion on this matter. also she keeps mentioning to wait for upcoming changes on current immigration laws. whats all that abou?

    will appreciate your comments, thank you

    • kani, please read my new post explaining my new policy on commenting back extensively on people’s specific problems. However, I can tell you what your lawyer said is crazy! And that’s why I want to comment back on your situation more than my new policy would suggest. Either your lawyer is not a very good immigration lawyer or not telling you the truth to get you to retain her (knowing you might not have hired her if she told you the truth). Of course the 10-year bar applies to you! There’s no getting around the bar by staying in this country as she suggested and not getting into trouble! (unless the law changes with amnesty). Sure, you can stay in this country but you will never be able to get your green card here under current law because of your illegal entry. The only way to get it is by leaving the U.S. and doing it in your country, which triggers the bar. Please read my post again, I explained it all there. If it were that easy, I would have described the same “method” to get around the bar as this so-called lawyer suggested.


  90. How can I find out if my sister patitioned for me before April 01 if she can’t find the paperwork and I need a atterny to fight my case

    • Ask her to go back and check her papers in the house. If she paid for the petition with a check, she could get the bank’s records that the check was cashed by the government. Or maybe she kept a money order receipt. If not, then she can retain me to represent her to get her records from the government. That’s the first step and it’ll be necessary. Where are you located? If in So Cal, you guys can meet me in person at my office. But even if not, everything can be done without us meeting in person.



  91. Larry, do you have a recommendation for a good immigration attorney in Atlanta, GA?

    • Freddy, funny you’re the second person that asked me about Atlanta in the past two days, but sorry, don’t know anyone there personally that I could recommend. Short of telling you to just pick a name from the Yellow Pages or on a legal website, try calling the Georgia State Bar and ask for a referral near you.


  92. I’ve been here in the us since I was a year old and graduated from high school so I didn’t know I was illigal till I was 16 my sister who is a citizen filled a patition in 2001 but never got a reply now I’m 23 and married to a us citizen wat should I do I can’t go back to Mexico all my family is here I don’t even speak the language i concider my self a American so what should I do

    • You might have chance because of your sister’s petition. As I stated in the blog post: “I mentioned above about some people having a previous immigrant petition filed for them prior to or on April 30, 2001.” Did she file the petition before or on April 30, 2001? She should have gotten a receipt back from USCIS.


  93. Larry, my wife is really worried that by me applying for citizenship and exposing that she is here illegally, it may trigger some sort of INS action – like coming to our home and “getting” her. I told her that it’s highly unlikely that they would do that with all the cases they have. However, anything is possible. Have you heard of any situations where this occurred? This is keeping me from applying.

    • Freddy, as I said before, information on forms such as the N-400 and the I-130 are not used against relatives disclosed in there with no status in the U.S. I have not seen that being used to bring removal proceedings against the relative, but does not mean it can never happen. It’s just very unlikely though.

  94. Hi L. Saad,

    Well, what are you doing, reading the wrong post? :) This one here is for people who came illegally. You should be reading the other post because you came with visa! Click here.

    I described it all in there. I think you can file it yourself by following USCIS instructions, but I do recommend against it. If there are problems or unforeseen complications during the process, or mistakes in doing the forms or using a wrong form or not enough of the right type of evidence, you’d want to have a lawyer helping you. That’s why I recommend you retain an experienced immigration lawyer.

    After you check out that post, would love to hear your comments!


  95. Dear Larry,
    I have been married to a U.S. citizen for over four years now. I entered the country in early 2008 with a visitors visa (Type b1/b2), but now I have overstayed my visa more than a year. I want to apply for permanent residency but I am afraid that since I overstayed my visa I will not be eligible. Can I still apply for permanent residency without having to leave the country and if so do I just follow the Petitioning Procedures on the USCIS website? I am even more worried now because I became pregnant last month and I don’t want to take any chances. Well thanks in advance for any advive you can spare. :)

  96. Fredy, I cannot analyze your case unless you’re my client but yes, that is true, emotional separation is normally not enough, there has to be more. These factors are described by the consulate in Juarez, you may want to check them out here: http://ciudadjuarez.usconsulate.gov/root/pdfs/waiverinstructions.pdf

    As far as your wife’s status on the form, yes, you can put it as “No immigration status” or “No status”, that’s fine.


  97. She did enter illegally when she was a child and has been here since. She is now 33 so she faces a 10 year ban unless I can prove extreme hardship. I keep reading that emotional seperation is not considered a hardship. My kids are perfectly healthy and I suport the family with just my income, so what exactly will be considered hardship if my wife isnt allowed to return? I have serious doubts. She doesn’t work but has worked before using someone else’s social security number (ouch, I know). Is that another pardon we have to seek?

    I think it’s better if I get my citizenship first. What do I put on my application about my wife? “No Status”, perhaps? I hope that wont bring any unwanted attention to our household.

    thanks again.

  98. Fredy,

    Thanks for your comment. Well, information in the immigrant petition filed for an alien is normally not to be used for bringing removal proceedings against the alien if they’re illegal. So, yes, you can petition for her now to reserve a priority date — kind of like pulling a number to reserve a spot in the queue.

    You’re right about the much longer waiting time she would have to wait for a visa number as the wife of a LPR. It’s about 7 years behind right now for Mexican nationals like your wife. As the wife of a citizen, however, a visa number is always available immediately.

    You said she’s “illegal” but that could also mean she came to the U.S. legally and overstayed her visa. But, since you’ve commented on this particular blog post, I’m assuming you read the explanation I gave about the 10-year bar and so your wife came here illegally. As the law is now, she would still have to leave the U.S. and process her case in Juarez whether you remain a LPR or become a citizen. However, I would think a citizen is slightly better than a LPR in convincing the consulate there is extreme hardship because a LPR normally has less ties in the U.S. than a citizen.


  99. Guru, thanks for that plain-English explanation. I’m a Permanent Resident of the US and I married an illegal Mexican national in 2002. We have kids, house, etc. Could I risk my legal status by petitioning her while I’m only a permanent resident? I’m close to submitting my Citizenship app but the application asks me about the status of my wife. i don’t know what to put on there and I’m afraid of what they will ask about her at the interview. I’m going to consult an attorney to take my case but in general what should I do? Petition her as a LPR or become a citizen first? I have minor criminal offenses so my citizenship is not a slam dunk. Other than the much longer processing time, is there any disadvantage to petitioning her while I’m a LPR? Thanks for any insight.

  100. Crystal,

    Thanks for your compliments. I really want to help people have access to plain-spoken and straight-talking immigration information. Love it!

    Since you’re only 16, you may or may not be able to marry your boyfriend without your parents’ consent, depending on what state you live in. It depends on the law for emancipated minors in your state. But, you are so young, wait until you’re 18 at least before you get married although sometimes love is so strong…If you marry him anyway, as I explained in the blog post above, he would want to leave the U.S. before 18 and half years old and apply for his papers through you. That way the unlawful presence bars won’t apply to him and he could come back with his legal residence.

    This 3-year and 10-year bar in the law has been so harsh since 1997 that I feel it will eventually be overturned, so that people like your boyfriend can stay in the U.S. and become legal. As it is now, I have a number of clients in his situation who have decided the risk is worthwhile enough for them to go back to their countries and apply to return even if they are facing the bar. It is very touching to see the anxieties and worries when loved ones are separated while waiting for the cases to be decided. I really feel the law must be reformed in this regard!

    President Obama and Congressional leaders are discussing immigration reform for next year. I believe it will happen then. Just hang in there!


  101. Crystal Yeh Says:

    Also, guru. you are an Amazing man for offering some free advice for those who need it, and like me can’t afford it. please continue to help those in need. and I want you to know that your practically a charity for doing this =]

  102. This is a very unusual case that I had not even considered it existed. Thanks for bringing it to our attention and clarifying it. Keep up the good work.

  103. I have been in the country since I was 8, I didnt even realize what illegal was until I wanted to go to college after High School. I am now 28 years old, I married and Divorced a Green Eyed American Woman for Love. We had two boys together they are 2 and 4 now, she also has an 8 Year old little girl that calls me Daddy since her real father is no where to be found. We Divorced because she is unstable and the JUDGE gave me fULL CUSTODY OF ALL THE CHILDREN knowing that I am illegal from El Salvador. I am not allowed to be employed so making money is EXTREMELY HARD now. So I now Have FULL Custody of My boys and HER daughter too BUT IM ILLEGAL AND I COULD BE DEPORTED AT ANY TIME. What will be of the kids then? I love this country and I consider myself as AMERICAN as Apple Pie. Im no longer married so I cannot file with her BUt I NEED a VISA at least BEcause my BLUE EYED children cannot live in EL SALVADOR they are AMERICAN.. GRRRRRR… As you can tell this is really Frustrating and Hard for me.

    I post these things because I need people to see all sides of illegal immigration. NOT ALL OF US ARE SPANISH SPEAKING WET BACKS THAT JUST CAME HERE TO SEND MONEY HOME. SOME OF US ARE JUST AS AMERICAN AS YOU. I was a kid when I arrived and I LOVE THIS COUNTRY. A JUDGE GAVE ME CUSTODY of not only my children but also my EXs Kid. OPEN YOUR EYES PEOPLE, WE ALL BLEED RED and SOME OF US NEED a BREAK, MY KIDS DESERVE a BREAK not to be taken to a foreign country because CONGRESS and the people cant get it together.

    Thank you for reading and GOD BLESS!

    • Crystal Yeh Says:

      to Jose. sweetie, my boyfriend has the same problem. Worse yet, we’re minors with no money nor support from our parents. We’ve been dating for 3 months, hes 17 and Im 16. Please believe me when I say… I love him with all my heart. I know Im 16, but I do. I just found out yesterday that not only does he not have a greencard, but came here illegal also as an 8 YEAR OLD who didnt know better. How can he get a visa? btw I AM a native US citizen myself, I thought I could just marry him, but he doesnt even have a way to obtain a visa.
      any feedback?
      my email: kitkat.bar15@Yahoo.com

  104. As usual sir, you have cleared things up for the uninformed. I can see why there is so much illegal immigration because it is much easier to try and keep a low profile to avoid deportation but, at the expense of the US taxpayer. Washington needs to crack down hard before its too late. Unfortunately, it may be.

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