6 Legal Pathways for Undocumented Immigrants in the US
Undocumented immigrants are individuals who enter and reside in a country without proper documentation or authorization. They face many challenges, including the inability to obtain legal employment, access to healthcare, and education.
Many undocumented immigrants in the United States seek legal status to improve their quality of life, but the process can be complicated and lengthy.
This article will explore the various ways undocumented immigrants can obtain legal status in the United States.
- Family-Based Immigration
One of the most common ways undocumented immigrants can obtain legal status is through family-based immigration. U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents can sponsor their immediate relatives, including spouses, parents, and children, for a green card.
However, the process can take several years, and there are caps on the number of visas available each year. Additionally, the sponsor must provide evidence that they can financially support their relative.
- Employment-Based Immigration
Employers can sponsor employees for a green card if they can demonstrate that there are no qualified U.S. workers available for the position. The process can be lengthy and often requires the immigrant to have specialized skills or education. There are also caps on the number of employment-based visas available each year.
Undocumented immigrants who have faced persecution or fear persecution in their home country can apply for asylum in the United States. Asylum seekers must demonstrate that they have a well-founded fear of persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.
Asylum seekers must apply within one year of entering the United States or demonstrate extraordinary circumstances that prevented them from applying on time.
- Temporary Protected Status
Undocumented immigrants from certain countries experiencing armed conflict, natural disasters, or other extraordinary conditions can apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). TPS allows individuals to live and work in the United States temporarily. However, TPS does not provide a pathway to permanent residency or citizenship.
- Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program allows undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children to receive a two-year work permit and protection from deportation. To be eligible, individuals must have arrived in the United States before age 16, lived in the country continuously for at least five years, and met other criteria.
The future of the DACA program is uncertain, as it has faced legal challenges and attempts to end it.
- U Visa
Undocumented immigrants who have been victims of certain crimes in the United States, such as domestic violence, sexual assault, or human trafficking, may be eligible for a U visa. The U visa allows individuals to live and work in the United States for up to four years and may provide a pathway to permanent residency.
To be eligible, individuals must have suffered substantial physical or emotional abuse and must have cooperated with law enforcement to investigate or prosecute the crime.
Undocumented immigrants face many challenges in the United States, including the inability to obtain legal employment and access to healthcare and education.
There are various ways undocumented immigrants can obtain legal status, including family-based immigration, employment-based immigration, asylum, Temporary Protected Status Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and U Visa.
However, the process can be complicated and lengthy, and there are caps on the number of visas available each year. Undocumented immigrants may benefit from seeking the assistance of an immigration attorney to navigate the legal pathways to obtaining legal status.
If you are an undocumented immigrant seeking legal status, it’s best to consult an experienced immigration attorney in Houston TX. Contact Pena Immigration Law today to discuss your options and secure your legal status in the United States!