Today, the Firm won permanent residence for a client from Mexico who had entered the United States without inspection in 1993, when he was only 10 years old. For the last 16 years, our client has lived in the United States without documented status, getting work as he could find it. After today, he can search for a job on the open market, and pursue a fair living wage for himself and his family.
Initially, it appeared that there would be no relief available to our client. A few years ago, he got married to his wife, who is a U.S. citizen. However, someone who entered the country without inspection typically cannot obtain a “green card” through marriage. While it is commonly believed that anyone can get a green card through marriage, this is not true. Typically, only individuals who lawfully entered the country can adjust their status through marriage. Despite being only 10 years old when he entered the country, he was still considered to have entered without inspection. Therefore, our client would normally be left without any form of relief available to him, and would have to live his life in constant fear of being separated from his family.
Thankfully, our client was eligible to take advantage of a special law that is no longer on the books. In the late 1990’s, Congress passed a law that would allow people who entered without inspection to pursue permanent residence, as long as a qualifying petition was filed on their behalf on or before April 30, 2001. Any petitions after this date do not qualify for any special treatment. Luckily, it so happened that our client’s parents got sponsored for a green card a mere one week before the deadline. As a beneficiary of his parents’ petition, this meant that our client was “grandfathered” under the law, and could still take advantage of it.
After an interview today, our client was granted adjustment of status, and will be receiving his Permanent Residence Card in the mail.
Our client was lucky. The law that he took advantage of expired in 2001, and has not been renewed. Most immigrants in his situation have no avenue to obtain permanent residence, and must always remain in the shadows. For our client, the plastic card he will receive in the mail will make all the difference in the world. In three years, we will apply for naturalization, and he will be proud to become a citizen of the country he grew up in.