9 Ways to Get a Green Card

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By David M. Sperling, Esq.

While the Supreme Court dealt a crushing blow to undocumented immigrants with its June xx decision,  there have never been more options available to legalize status. Bear in mind, however, that most of these remedies are complex and will require  the assistance of an expert immigration practitioner.

Here is a list of some of those remedies:

  1. Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.  This program is no longer a speedy route to Legal Permanent Resident  (LPR) status for Salvadorans, Guatemalans and Hondurans, but it remains an effective remedy to prevent deportation for minors who have been abused, neglected or abandoned by just one of their parents.
  1. I-601A Provisional Waiver. Undocumented spouses of U.S. Citizens can now apply for a waiver that will allow them to briefly return to their home countries for consular processing, with very little risk.
  1. Adjustment through Marriage.  Anyone who entered the United States with a visa and is the “Immediate Relative” of a U.S. Citizen, is eligible for Green Card in the Untied States. This category includes minor children and spouses of U.S. Citizens, and parents of adult U.S. Citizens.
  1. Adjustment for TPS Registrants.  TPS is not a stepping stone to LPR status. However, thanks to a relatively recent court decision, there is now a pathway for TPS registrants who are spouses of U.S. Citizens or parent of U.S. Citizens.
  1. Work visas.    These visas in most cases require advanced degrees, employer sponsorship and job experience, and are not available to anyone in the United States illegally.
  1. Asylum.  It remain very difficult for Central Americans to win an asylum case based solely on gang violence and threats. Successful cases usually involve some level  of governmental complicity. Standards are more lenient for unaccompanied minors (under 18 years of age).  Asylum cases based upon sexual orientation or domestic violence have a far greater chance of success.
  1. Cancellation of Removal.   Certain individuals who have resided continuously in the United States for 10 years or more, and have children, spouses or parents who are U.S. Citizens or LPRs, may qualify for a Green Card. However, the standards are extremely high:  They would need to provide that the qualifying relative would suffer “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” if they were to be deported.
  1. VAWA and Domestic Violence.  An undocumented immigrant married to an abusive  U.S. Citizen or LPR may be able to obtain legal status through  self-petition.
  1. The “U Visa” for Crime Victims.  Certain crime victims who cooperate with law-enforcement are eligible for a U-visa that will eventually lead to LPR status.

There are many other routes to legal status in the United States, and immigration law is highly complex. Readers are urged to consult with an experienced immigration lawyer regarding their particular circumstances.

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