If someone enters the United States illegally, without admission or inspection, he or she will usually NOT be eligible for what attorneys call “adjustment of status.” (See sections entitled “adjustment of status” and “family-based consular processing.”). Since the law was changed by Congress in the late 1990s, current law now requires that if a person enters the U.S. illegally and accumulates more than six months of unlawful presence here, he or she will have a ten-year penalty in which he or she may not receive any benefits under the immigration laws of the United States. This penalty can be “waived” (see section re: “Waivers”). If this person entered the United States illegally, he or she ordinarily has to wait in his or her home country for a waiver to be approved. However, there is a certain kind of waiver called a “provisional” waiver which can be applied for and approved while the intending immigrant is physically present in the United States.
The specific requirements for a provisional waiver are:
- The applicant must be at least 17 years old
- The applicant must be physically present in the U.S.
- In the process of obtaining an immigrant visa
There is no reason to believe that the applicant would only be “inadmissible” because of unlawful presence in the United States, and for no other reason. (See “Grounds of Inadmissibility and Deportability.”).
Lessons from the Past
One thing is clear to me: We, as human beings, must be willing to accept people who are different from ourselves.
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