Button 3 Button 1 Button 2 Button 4 Button 5 Button 6
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google
630-932-9100
Free Initial Consultation | Se habla español 630-932-9100
Mevorah Law Offices LLC
630-932-9100
DuPage County Attorneys

LOMBARD

900 E. Roosevelt Road, Lombard, IL 60148

Phone: 630-932-9100

BLOOMINGDALE

134 N. Bloomingdale Road, Bloomingdale, IL 60108

Phone: 630-529-4761

ST. CHARLES

333 N. Randall Road, Suite 104, St. Charles, IL 60175

Phone: 630-443-0600

JOLIET

58 N. Chicago Street, Suite 500, Joliet, IL 60432

Phone: 815-727-4500

CHICAGO

105 W. Madison Street, Suite 2200, Chicago, IL 60602

Phone: 630-932-9100

Unlawful Presence vs. Unlawful Entry

Posted on in Immigration
  • Font size: Larger Smaller
  • Hits: 1111
  • Print

Chicago immigration attorneys, unlawful entry, unlawful-presenceIt is an extremely common misconception that as soon as someone spends one minute in the United States without status, he or she immediately becomes a criminal. This is simply not the case under immigration law. However, entering the country without inspection is a different matter—one is a crime, and one is not. There is a difference between civil and criminal law. While many civil offenses may still render you deportable, it is not guaranteed, especially if you have done nothing unlawful before or since. 

Unlawful Entry

Unlawful entry into the United States, also known as entry without inspection, is a crime. It is a misdemeanor under U.S. criminal law—not immigration law—to enter the country without inspection by immigration officers (for example, by running across the border, or hiding in the trunk of someone’s car), or to lie or otherwise falsify information during an inspection. The first unlawful entry is punishable by either a fine, which is still classified as a criminal penalty, or by up to six months of imprisonment. The second increases the imprisonment period to two years.

If you have been deported after an unlawful entry, the penalties become even more stiff. If you are caught after deportation for crimes of moral turpitude (a vague, ever-expanding category of crimes), you may be fined and/or imprisoned for up to 10 years, while someone caught after being deported for an aggravated felony—generally a crime that displays a disregard for human life or honesty—can be imprisoned for up to 20 years. The stakes are very high. As such, reentry after deportation is strongly discouraged, both by U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) and by most attorneys.

Unlawful Presence

By comparison, unlawful presence in the United States is not a crime; rather it is a civil infraction. The distinction is fine but important—unlawful presence will not show up on a criminal record, nor will it trigger many immigration penalties unless it goes along with criminal acts. An undocumented person has not necessarily committed a crime, despite popular rhetoric on the subject. Deportation is not a criminal punishment, but it can be a civil punishment. 

One area where unlawful presence can significantly affect your immigration status, however, is if you are residing in the U.S. and either wish to re-enter after leaving, or adjust status to permanent resident. Adjustment of status from within the country is generally only available to those in legal status of which to begin. Thus, if you have accrued unlawful presence beyond a set period—for most visa types, six months—you will either have to leave the country and apply for the appropriate status, or successfully apply for a waiver of unlawful presence. These are not often granted; however, it does happen and is generally worth a try in most cases.

Contact an Immigration Attorney

If you have entered without inspection, or built up unlawful presence, you need the experienced advice of a knowledgeable attorney. The skilled Chicago immigration attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC can provide answers to some of the questions you no doubt have about this process. Contact us today to set up an initial appointment.

Sources:

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/8/1325

https://www.uscis.gov/policymanual/HTML/PolicyManual-Volume7-PartB-Chapter3.html  

  • DuPage County Immigration Lawyers
  • Elite Lawyers
  • National Association of Distinguished Counsel
  • Top 40 Under 40
  • 2015 Top 40 Lawyers Under 40
  • Super Lawyers

Let us start helping you with a FREE initial consultation.

NOTE: Fields with a * indicate a required field.
*
*
*

One Stop For All Your Legal Needs

Whether you are going through a divorce, injured in an accident, need to file a workers' compensation claim, charged with a crime, immigrating to the United States, or need to file for bankruptcy, Mevorah Law Offices LLC can help. Our trial lawyers have over 35 years of experience helping clients throughout Northern Illinois from five offices in Lombard, Bloomindale, Joliet, St. Charles, and Chicago.

Steven Mevorah has assembled experienced attorneys under one roof so that his clients need not search for a new attorney each time they need help. Mr. Mevorah has also established a wide network of additional attorneys so that his clients merely need to stop by Mevorah Law Offices LLC to find the attorney they need.

Client Focused Representation

Our practice is focused on meeting your needs with flexible hours and locations to serve you:

  • Free initial consultations
  • Saturday and evening appointments available
  • Home and hospital visits if your injuries prevent you from traveling
  • Multiple locations throughout Chicagoland
  • Veteran trial attorneys
  • Experienced negotiators
  • Payment plans available
  • Cash, check, or credit card accepted