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Is It Possible for Illegal Immigrants to Gain Legal Status After a Decade?

With the introduction of the Dignity Act proposal in June 2023, many questions have emerged about the scope this piece of legislation would have if passed and enacted. The bill offers a path to legal residency for undocumented immigrants who have been in the United States for at least five years. Those who choose to apply for legal status under this program, which shouldn’t be confused with immigration amnesty, would have to reside in the U.S. for another five years and receive conditional green cards. It doesn’t matter if the applicant has been living and working without status for 10 years or even longer. All qualified applicants must stay in the program and make restitution payments for at least five years.

Living in the U.S. for a Decade

Unlike other nations with immigration systems that grant resident status after a long period of permanence, no such provisions exist in American laws. Most of the benefits managed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services list permanence as a requirement, but none of them become automatic after 10 years go by. However, there’s a 10-year consideration that an immigration lawyer in San Diego can raise as an affirmative defense when seeking a Cancellation of Removal to prevent deportation.

An immigrant who has been in the U.S. for 10 or more years might be able to persuade an immigration judge to dispense with removal orders. Let’s say a woman from Somalia has been living and working as an undocumented migrant in California since 2015. If she has proven herself to be of good moral character with ties to the community, there’s a chance an immigration attorney’s petition to waive deportation would work, particularly if there’s an opportunity to pursue an adjustment of status. This woman could marry a U.S. citizen upon leaving the courtroom, and her documented permanence would allow her to get a green card sooner than if she had done it when she arrived.

Transitioning to Legal Status After 10 Years

Should the Dignity Act become law as it’s currently formulated, undocumented foreigners who have lived in the U.S. for 10 years will certainly qualify for the program on the basis of permanence, but they still need to pay a fine plus restitution over another five years. Should the Dignity Act proposal fizzle in Congress, foreigners with undocumented status in the U.S. still have options to turn their situations around.

In most cases, an immigration law firm would have to handle petitions and applications for clients with many years of undocumented permanence. Nonetheless, if there are no issues related to illegal border crossing, immigration fraud, or felony offenses, the options may include asylum requests, Temporary Protected Status, marriage to an American citizen, or enlisting in the Armed Forces. It’s important to remember these are common options. San Diego immigration lawyers can explore other lesser-known programs and paths to legal status.

If you need the services of a reliable, trustworthy San Diego immigration lawyer, reach out to KS Visa Law today. We specialize in naturalization, family law immigration, temporary employment visas, and much more. Call 858-874-0711 to schedule an appointment.

May 2024