How to Become a Permanent Resident if You Enter The United States Illegally
The I-601A is an application to allow someone who entered the United States illegally to become a permanent resident of the United States without having to go back to their home country for 10 years. The applicant must be married to a US citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident to qualify, and cannot have any serious criminal convictions. If you apply and win the pardon, you still have to go back to your home country, but only to pick up your permanent resident card, and you will probably only be in your home country for about a week.
Winning the I-601A pardon is not automatic. The USCIS official approval rate for the I-601A is about 70%. I have filed over a hundred I-601A pardon applications and my approval rate is about 85%.
The USCIS wants each US citizen petitioner to write a letter addressing how they will suffer hardship in the following areas: (only hardship to the US citizen spouse counts)
1. HEALTH: Ongoing or specialized treatment requirements for a physical or mental condition; availability and quality of such treatment in your country, anticipated duration of treatment; whether a condition is chronic or acute, or long or short term.
2. FINANCIAL CONSIDERATIONS: Future employability; loss due to sale of home or business or termination of a professional practice; decline in standard of living because departing spouse contributed significantly to the household income; cost of extraordinary needs such as special education or training for children, etc.; cost of care for family members.
3. EDUCATION: Loss of opportunity for the US citizen petitioner to complete high school, GED, vocational, or higher education.
4. PERSONAL CONSIDERATIONS: Existence of children born or adopted by the married couple; other children born to the US citizen petitioner; other close relatives in the United States; ages of the petitioner and applicant; length of residence in the United States and community ties for the US citizen
5. SPECIAL FACTORS: Cultural, language, religious, and ethnic obstacles; valid fears of persecution in the applicant’s home country; social ostracism or stigma; access to social services in applicant’s home country.
There are 3 steps to the I-601A process.
The 1st step is to file an I-130 petition.
The US citizen files an I-130 petition for the applicant, and the purpose of this step is to show that they have a valid, genuine marriage. This step is pretty easy but it usually takes about 5-6 months to receive the approval of the I-130.
The 2nd step is to apply directly to the USCIS for the I-601A pardon.
This is the hardest part of the case and it usually takes USCIS about 3-8 months to make a decision on the case. If the pardon is denied, then the case is over and there is nothing more to do on the case.
The 3rd and final step to a case is to pick up their permanent resident card.
This final steps requires scheduling them to go to the embassy in their home country to pick up their permanent resident card. This step usually takes about 3-4 months, so the total time for the whole case generally runs about 14-15 months.
I have never seen or heard of a case where USCIS denied someone’s pardon and then went by their house to pick them up for deportation, so I think the worst thing that can happen is just to lose the money spent on the case.
How much does the permanent residency process cost?
My attorney fees for the whole case from start to finish are $4,000 and the USCIS filing fees are about $1,500, for a total of $5,500. However, if a pardon is denied, the total cost to the applicant is only $3,500. You can always call me with any questions you might have about this or any other immigration matter.