Permanent Residency Simply by "Registering"? Can't be that easy! Pt. 1
Ok, it's not quite that easy, but there is a provision under the immigration laws, albeit not the most commonly-used, that allows for a person to obtain permanent residence through "registry." How does one spot a registry case, you might ask? Well, the clues may lie in the number of lines or even wrinkles in your client's face! Here's what I mean: say a potential client walks in the office one day and tells you that they are in a very sad situation because they have no status, no valid visa, no qualifying family relative has ever filed an immigration petition on their behalf, no labor certification, no NOTHING! And of course, they want to know if there's any hope for them to legalize their status. Hmm, you think; doesn't appear that they qualify for any relief...except! They look somewhat older than say, the average 25 year old. You ask them when they first came to the US. Hmm, not sure, they say, but I think it was sometime in 1970 or 1971.
Permanent Residency Simply by "Registering"? Can't be that easy! Pt. 2
Aha! You've just uncovered a hidden gem in the immigration laws that might afford this lucky soul a path to citizenship. I write of course, of the Registry program under Section 249 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Registry under the INA provides that a person's status may be adjusted to that of a lawful permanent resident if they can prove that they entered the U.S. before January 1, 1972, and that they maintained continuous residence from that time through the time of the adjustment application. The person must also show that he/she is one of good moral character, is not ineligible for citizenship, is not inadmissible under certain criminal grounds, isn't a subversive, violator of narcotics laws and alien smuggler, among other bad apples. The person does not even have to have a family or employer sponsor, nor is he/she subject to the dreadful visa backlog numbers.
Permanent Residency Simply by "Registering"? Can't be that easy! Pt. 3
This category of applicants also do not need to submit an affidavit of support nor a medical exam, as registry is not subject to these grounds of inadmissibility. The tricky part for some applicants, however, may be gathering and submitting proof to the immigration service of having held continuous residence in the U.S. all the way back to 1972. And, the granting of the application is at the discretion of the government, so there is never a guarantee that the application will be approved. Still, registry can prove to be a hidden gem for many persons who entered the U.S. decades ago, and who thought they were unable to seek any form of relief after so many years of being out of status, having overstayed their visas, or having entered without valid documentation at all. Consult your immigration lawyer for legal advice on this law.
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