What is a Legal Entry?
When filing a Form I-485, which is an Application to Adjust Status, you will need to be able to prove that you had a lawful entry into the United States. Lawful entry is when you were accepted or paroled into the United States. For most people, this means that you entered the United States with the right documentation and made actual face to face contact with a U.S. immigration officer and the officer in contact with you acknowledged your entry to the United States. Typically, this happens at an entry point such as airports, seaports, border crossing, etc. when you share your passport and visa with an officer.
The confirmation of your lawful entry must be related to your most recent entry to the U.S. Most people that submit an adjustment of status application will submit a copy of at least one of the following documents:
• Form I-94 Arrival-Departure Record
• Passport page with admission or parole stamp (issued by a U.S. immigration officer)
• Passport page with nonimmigrant visa
• Border crossing card (Mexican citizens only)
What is Unlawful Entry?
If you entered the United States through an unlawful entry, you face a more difficult path to a green card. Those who entered without an inspection cannot adjust status. This is a frequent problem faced by many undocumented immigrants who marry a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. It is possible to become a permanent resident (a green card holder), but the path is a lot more complex. You may need to use a consular processing and request a provisional unlawful presence waiver. If this is your situation, we recommend that you seek the guidance of an immigration attorney.
What is a Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver?
The provisional unlawful presence waiver allows the person to remain in the United States while USCIS decides on the pending waiver, and then leave the United States to attend their immigrant visa interview only after the waiver is approved. Rather than pardoning the unlawful entry, which is the common misconception with this waiver, it pardons the unlawful presence. Unfortunately, if the parent entered illegally into the United States, they are eligible to apply through their United States Citizen child, but they must also have a USC/LPR spouse or parent to apply for the provisional waiver. Qualifying relatives include USC/LPR spouses or parents. A child cannot be a qualifying relative.