In our daily business of helping people with their immigration issues, we answer a lot of questions. Some questions we get more than others—here are three of the questions that we hear most often, and our answers to them.
- Can my United States citizen child petition me if I am illegal in this country?
A United States citizen child can file a relative petition for their parent, but when you are present unlawfully, you will require a waiver for unlawful presence or you will have had to have a petition filed on your behalf before 4/30/2001.
If the parent requires a waiver, you can only qualify by showing that a United States citizen or legal permanent resident parent or spouse will suffer extreme hardship if they are not allowed to remain in the United States. This is usually done by demonstrating that the U.S. Citizen or legal permanent resident spouse or parent will suffer extreme emotional hardship, financial hardship, medical hardship, familial hardship and social hardship, for example, documenting a serious medical condition or showing that the qualifying relative’s home country is actively dangerous or detrimental to their well-being.
- How long do I have to wait to apply for citizenship if I am married to a United States citizen and still living as a married couple?
As the spouse of a United States citizen, you are eligible to apply for citizenship after three years of having your green card if you are still married and living with your spouse. You will need to submit documentation of this with your application to prove you are still together. This tends to be a very straightforward application process.
Do note that you need to have been physically present in the United States for at least 18 months out of the 3 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application. You also need to have lived within the state, or USCIS district with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence, for at least 3 months prior to the date of submitting your application.
- If I am unlawfully present in the United States, can my employer help me obtain lawful status?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is no. When you are unlawfully present in the country, an employer normally cannot petition for you unless you have an old petition filed before April 30, 2001 and are covered under a special part of the law known as 245(i); otherwise, persons unlawfully present cannot obtain a green card through an employer because most work visas require you to be in lawful status at the time of filing. If you find yourself in this situation, you should speak to a professional to determine what the best way is for you to move forward.
We hope the answers to these three questions have helped you figure out your next move. If you have any additional questions, or if you want to book an appointment to discuss your immigration situation, reach out to us today!