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Can I get a Green Card if I entered the U.S. Without Permission?

Generally, the answer is no. But there is one important exception. The exception is Section 245 (i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Section 245(i) allows certain persons who are otherwise ineligible to apply for adjustment of status, to apply if they pay a $1,000 penalty fee. Section 245 (i) benefits applicants who have an immigrant visa immediately available but entered without inspection or otherwise violated their status.

Adjustment of Status is a procedure allowing certain foreign nationals already in the U.S. to apply for immigrant status — it essentially allows you to get a green card without ever leaving the United States.

To qualify under section 245 (i) your immigration history must indicate that you had 1) a relative submit a visa petition on your behalf or 2) an employer submit a labor certification on your behalf prior to April 30, 2001. There is no requirement that the petition filed be approved. The only requirement is that the petition must have been filed timely.

For those who had petitions filed on their behalf by January 14th, 1998, there is no need to prove physical presence. Conversely, those who had their petitions filed after January 14th 1998 but before April 30th, 2001 must also show that they were physically present in the U.S. on the date of the enactment of 245 (i) (December 21, 2000). Your immigration status on December 21, 2000 is not relevant to qualify, only proving that you were here is necessary.

Section 245 (i) cases have several challenges to overcome and complexities that typically develop. It is important to proceed with caution and be well informed before filing a 245 (i) case.


If you would like to discuss the possibility of applying for your immigration status under Section 245 (i) contact an Austin immigration lawyer for help. You can reach us at (512) 329-2770.