When someone enters the United States without inspection, he or she may be arrested and deported. Afterward, the individual must wait to re-enter the country for a specific period of time, lest he or she face consequences. Many people confuse this “re-entry bar” with the bars against permanent residence. It is extremely important for potential immigrants to understand the difference between the two, lest they make a mistake that leaves them on the outside looking in—permanently.
When you are granted a visa to enter the United States, it will have a specific expiration date of which you must abide. If you do not, and you are caught, you will be issued an Order of Removal. A final Order of Removal means that you are not being granted any form of immigration relief, and gives you a specific time frame in which to leave the country. You may be granted voluntary departure, which allows you to leave without being compelled and no bar will be assessed against your return. However, you may not be—and if you are not, you will have some time to wait before you are permitted to apply for re-entry into the United States.
Those who are not granted voluntary departure must wait out a bar before they can try to obtain a new American visa, unless they can obtain a waiver. Temporary bars are five, 10 and 20 years, depending on several factors. The Immigration & Nationality Act (INA) generally states:
- A five-year bar is appropriate for first-time offenders, or for those who were subject to expedited removal (immediate removal back across a border without hearing or detention);
- A 10-year bar is for those removed after a hearing (including appeals);
- A 20-year bar is for those removed more than once; and
- A permanent bar is for those convicted of an aggravated felony, which is a specific type of crime found to be against the national interest.
If you decide to attempt to re-enter the U.S. without waiting out your bar or obtaining a waiver, the Order of Removal against you may be reinstated, meaning that you may be deported without access to an immigration judge or hearing. You may also be charged with illegal reentry, which is a federal crime. If this occurs you will likely be facing a permanent bar.
It is possible to be granted a new visa after being removed—even if you were assessed a ‘permanent’ bar— but it is difficult and time-consuming. The most common way of doing this is to try and obtain a waiver of inadmissibility, as bars render someone inadmissible even if he or she was otherwise admissible. Waivers are available for most grounds of inadmissibility, such as disease or criminal conviction (depending on what the person was convicted of), and that does include violators of immigration laws. To apply for a waiver, you would complete form I-601, mail it in, and wait for results.
If you are not granted a waiver, you must wait out your bar. However, when it has expired, you cannot simply apply for a new visa in the standard manner. You must apply for permission first, by completing Form I-212, Application for Permission to Reapply. The rationale behind this step is that determining whether someone should be able to reapply is a time-consuming process, and it is better to save everyone time and trouble beforehand if reapplying for entry would be denied out of hand.
An Immigration Attorney Can Help
If you have a bar on your record, you will likely need the services of a competent immigration attorney. The Chicago immigration attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC know the ins and outs of removal orders and bars to re-entry; we can help you navigate the process of reapplication and hopefully get you back to where you want to be. Contact our office today for a free initial consultation.