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Parviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq.

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  • Writer's pictureParviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq.

Nine Ways to Fix Your U.S. Immigration Status

Sometimes unexpected developments can change your U.S. immigration options...for the better.

In this article, we discuss nine significant life events that can possibly have a positive effect on your immigration status if you are undocumented in the United States.

While this list is not exhaustive, these events often present opportunities to explore various immigration pathways.

Article Outline:

Remember to conduct thorough research and consult with a qualified immigration attorney to understand the best course of action for your specific situation.

Let's get started.

1. Parent Becomes a U.S. Citizen

If you are unmarried and under the age of 21, your U.S. citizen parent can petition for you as an “immediate relative”(by filing an I-130). As an immediate relative,” there is a green card available to you, and most importantly, you can apply to adjust status within the United States. Adjusting status allows you to avoid having to go abroad for riskier consular processing.

2. Previous Petition Filed Before April 30th, 2001

If someone petitioned for you or your parents before April 30th, 2001, and you were under 21 at that time, research INA 245(i). This provision allows you to potentially adjust your status within the United States, avoiding the need to leave the country despite an illegal entry.

3. Discovering U.S. Citizenship in Your Family

If you find out that one of your grandparents was a US citizen, investigate the rules of acquisition of citizenship. Acquisition of citizenship refers to the automatic obtention of U.S. citizenship, even if the person didn’t know it. Yes, this can happen.

Rules around acquisition of citizenship are complex, and they are different depending on the time period in which the person was born, so seek professional guidance to determine if you may be eligible for citizenship through this lineage.

4. Engagement or Marriage to a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident

Wedding bells could be followed by immigration applications

If you are getting engaged or married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, explore the I-601A provisional waiver, I-601 waiver of inadmissibility, if you entered the U.S. without inspection (i.e. “illegally”). Similarly, explore the possibilities for adjustment of status if you have overstayed your visa.

5. Spouse Becomes a US Citizen or Permanent Resident

Similarly, if your spouse becomes a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, consider the I-601A provisional waiver, I-601 waiver of inadmissibility, and adjustment of status if you were a visa overstay.

6. Victim of a Crime

Getting a U visa from a crime is turning lemons into lemonade

If you have been a victim of a qualifying crime, investigate the U visa, which provides relief for undocumented victims of certain crimes. Per USCIS, the qualifying crimes are:

  • Abduction

  • Abusive Sexual Contact

  • Blackmail

  • Domestic Violence

  • Extortion

  • False Imprisonment

  • Female Genital Mutilation

  • Felonious Assault

  • Fraud in Foreign Labor Contracting

  • Hostae

  • Incest

  • Involuntary Servitude

  • Kidnapping

  • Manslaughter

  • Murder

  • Obstruction of Justice

  • Peonage

  • Perjury

  • Prostitution

  • Rape

  • Sexual Assault

  • Sexual Exploitation

  • Slave Trade

  • Stalking

  • Torture

  • Trafficking

  • Witness Tampering

  • Unlawful Criminal Restraint

Beware, U visa processing times, and the wait for an available visa are very lengthy nowaday. However, depending on your situation, the U visa may still be your best, or only option

7. Forced Labor or Human Trafficking

If you have been forced to work under threatening or manipulative circumstances, research the T visa for qualifying crime victims. The T-visa is also available for victims of human trafficking, which might not involve scenarios that are necessarily as extreme as you may normally imagine.

8. Domestic Violence

If you have experienced domestic violence, look into both the U visa and Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”), which offers protection and immigration relief for both men and women.

9. Military Family Members

A close family member who's a U.S. service member could help your immigration situation

If one of your close family members, such as a child, spouse, or parent, joins or is a veteran of the military, you may be eligible for military parole in place, which can help you overcome grounds of inadmissibility that would otherwise stop you from getting a green card.

Video Explainer


These nine life events can potentially open doors for individuals seeking to improve their immigration status.

Remember, this list is not exhaustive, and each case is unique. Conduct thorough research, seek information from reliable sources, and consult with a qualified immigration attorney to receive advice appropriate for your own situation.

Each immigration and citizenship case is particular and you should consult with a qualified immigration and citizenship lawyer about your case before taking any steps. The Law Office of Parviz Malakouti does not guarantee the accuracy of information presented nor assume responsibility for actions taken in reliance of this information. The information in this page could become outdated. Attorney marketing.

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