When someone enters the United States, he or she either does so at an inspection point, like an airport or shipyard, or he or she enters without inspection, by slipping over a border. Entering without inspection (EWI) does make someone undocumented, but many people become confused about the true meaning of EWI and its potential immigration consequences.
Inadmissible vs. Removable
One of the most important misconceptions about EWI is what it means to one’s immigration status. If someone is lawfully present in the U.S. and commits a crime or overstays his or her visa, then he or she becomes removable. In other words, he or she is able to be removed from the country. However, someone who has never been lawfully present in the U.S. cannot technically be removable, because he or she is legally not present. He or she is deemed to be inadmissible instead — one of many grounds for inadmissibility listed in U.S. immigration law.
Those who have entered without inspection will be inadmissible in the future, at least for a short period. If someone is present without inspection for between 180 days and one year, he or she will be inadmissible for three years. If someone is present without inspection for more than one year, the bar extends to 10 years. The only way these bars can be lifted is if the person in question can demonstrate extreme hardship to a U.S. citizen.
Despite this inadmissibility, it is possible in rare circumstances for an undocumented person to adjust status to a lawful one (though, in most cases, you will likely have to leave the U.S. in order to do so). The most common scenario where this may happen is if someone present without inspection marries a U.S. citizen. However, before adjusting status, you will need to apply for a waiver of unlawful presence.
A provisional waiver of unlawful presence can be applied while abroad, or it can be started while still in the United States. Regardless, you must still leave the country in order to be interviewed at a consulate abroad. Moreover, whether or not your application begins in country or outside the U.S., it does not change the standard of review that you must meet in order to have the waiver granted. If your waiver is denied, which is possible, you will have to wait out the time abroad and then apply for leave to re-enter after the expiration of your bar.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
If you have entered the U.S. without inspection, you may be subject to significant immigration consequences. If you have questions, contacting an attorney is one of the most important steps you can take. The dedicated Chicago immigration attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC are experienced in these matters and are happy to try and assist you. Call our office today for a free consultation.
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