What are my options/what do I do/will there be consequences

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What are my options/what do I do/will there be consequences

I came to the United States on November 17th of 2011 legally on a visa with family from Northern Ireland and I have been here since. I was 12 at the time and of course I had no idea what being illegal even meant. I want to do things right and I want to obtain my citizenship but I do not know what to do. I am enrolled in high school but I am scared because I am 17 and I have no idea what to do when I turn 18. Of course I do not have the hundreds of dollars it requires to talk to a lawyer and my parents do not either so I am trying to find someone who can help me. I am constantly afraid of what my future holds I am so worried about whether I should even try in school or whether what I do even matters because I don’t know how this will all turn out. I am willing to do anything I need to do to become legal. I just really need advice as to how this will work out

Asked on January 6, 2017 under Immigration Law, Texas


SB Member California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

What is your current status?  Did you enter lawfully and just overstayed along with your family?  Did your parents get any type of status or are they also in the US unlawfully?  Unfortunately, given your current situation, if you are unlawfully present, there is really not much you can do on your own other than leave and then try to get a valid visa such as an international student visa to reenter and continue your studies.  For that you'd have to be accepted into a college or university and they'd supply you with the necessary forms for you to apply for the student visa.  This is not guaranteed but as long as you depart the US before you turn 18, the unlawful presence time up until now will not count against you.  Once your turn 18, it will.  At that time, you will ONLY be able to legalize your status through a bona fide marriage to a US citizen.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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