2017 Immigration Rollercoaster
Author: New York Green Card Attorney Alena Shautsova
2017 was a year of unimaginable change within the field of Immigration Law. Orders of supervision were not renewed, TPS for certain countries was not extended. An entrepreneurship program was passed to help small entrepreneurs start a business in the US, however, minutes after its passing it was announced that the program would be shut down as soon as possible. The rollercoaster of this year's political battles has drastically affected many US Citizens and their family members in all areas in which the government can directly influence the lives of its Citizens. Anyone with a family member or friend that is actively looking to adjust their status in the US will agree, Immigration law has been the area affected the most.
The good news is, while the media shares the frightening stories of ICE raids, deportations, and families who are now “stuck in bureaucracy;” more families have been able to stay together and legalize their status in the US than ever before. The fear brought on by the media and the current administrations view on US Immigration Enforcement has made families seek out answers on how they can help their family members to get their green card finally. The good news is, a lot of these individuals are able to adjust their status legally and have been able to do so for years; they just didn’t know it until they educated themselves on their available options.
When most immigrants ask friends or family members how they can get their green card the most common answers will be:
- 1. Marry a US Citizen
- 2. Have your Job Sponsor you
- 3. Apply for Asylum
- 4. I heard you can buy a green card with a million dollars; you just have to win the DV lottery
- 5. Did I mention you can Marry a US Citizen?
- 6. There is nothing else you can do
Let's start with #6 just to get that one out of the way. There is much more that can be done to adjust your status and get your permanent residence status a/k/a green card. For starters:
- a. U Visa ( Victim of a Crime)
- b. T Visa (Victim of Trafficking)
- c. VAWA (For abused spouses, parents and children of US Citizens or LPR)
- d. EB1A ( Person of Extraordinary Ability – Self Sponsorship)
- e. Family Based Green Cards (Spouse, Child, or Parent of US Citizen)
- f. Special Juvenile Immigration Status (For Children under 21 Abandoned Neglected or Abused by at least one of their parents)
- g. Cancellation of Removal (Green Card issued by Immigration Judge for those who have been in the US for at least 10 years and had a US Citizen or Permanent Resident Spouse, Child, or Parent)
These are just a few of the less commonly known ways to adjust your status in the US.
Now for the most common answer to the question of “How do I get my Green Card?” Marriage to a US Citizen. This answer is true; you can marry a US Citizen to apply for your green card. However, you must first verify that you are not inadmissible to the US. One of the most common inadmissibility’s is an illegal entry. If you want to adjust your status in the US one of the criteria is that you need to have a legal entry. Unfortunately, for those who think they will just go back to their country and apply there, once they leave, they will have a 3-10 year bar in most circumstances on reentering the country regardless of an approved I-130 based on a spouse, parent or child. The good news is, waivers are available to forgive a person for this illegal entry. In most cases, they will still need to go back to their country to have a legal entry and adjust their status, but the time spent in the country is limited to about two weeks, rather than 3-10 years.
The second answer, have your job sponsor you, is also valid. However, it may not be realistic depending on what you do for a living. Job sponsorship is an extremely expensive process, even after the process is started it does not guarantee that your employer will be able to sponsor you. Between government filing fees and various other fees such as advertising fees to show your employer cannot find another employee for the job it can cost anywhere from $5000-$20000. This does not even include attorney’s fees should your employer choose to hire an attorney for the process. Even then, if while advertising your employer finds a different employee qualified for the job, there goes your chances for a green card and potentially your job. Also, in many cases, a waiver would still be required.
Asylum is a special provision in the US that one can only apply for within one year of coming to the US. This deadline has very limited exceptions. Asylum is a status that is granted to individuals who fear persecution in their home country. The claim must be based on the individual and not the country as a whole. Many people get confused with what is a valid Asylum claim and what is not. The most basic explanation of the claim is; If you or your family specifically are being targeted in your home country, and your government refuses or does not have the means of protecting you, you may have a valid claim for Asylum.
Investment Visas does have a path to obtaining a green card and the amount invested is going up very soon to $1.3M-$1.8M. The downside is that the investor will not be able to run the business he or she chooses to invest into if the investment amount is on the lower end. For this reason, it is advisable to look into alternative Business Visa options.
Last of all, if someone says you have no chance for a green card, look for a second opinion!