What are my options to obtain a green card/visa/legal documents if I am in the US undocumented?

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What are my options to obtain a green card/visa/legal documents if I am in the US undocumented?

I came here when I was 17 and have been living in the US for 8 years. Then 2 years ago I was caught working illegally. Now I am under the close surveillance of immigration office. I pay taxes, keep up with Immigration, and am starting to attend school. What are the different processes I can apply for in hopes to obtain legal documents? Do I stand a chance?

Asked on September 21, 2011 under Immigration Law, Maryland

Answers:

SB, Member, California / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you are not lawfully present in the US because you entered the US unlawfully, under the current immigration laws, there are no ways for you to legalize your status within the US.  You would have to go back to your home country and would need to consular process for a visa but because of the length of your unlawful stay in the US, as soon as you leave the US, you would automatically trigger a 10 year bar to reentry, which can only be waived by a showing of extreme hardship to a US citizen spouse, which is very difficult in most cases (and you don't even indicate whether or not you are married).

If you did enter the US lawfully but have overstayed your authorized period of stay, under the current immigration laws, you can only legalize your status within the US through a bona fide marriage to a US citizen.  I would strongly suggest that you consult with a qualified immigration attorney to understand fully your situation.  Good luck.


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