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Hope for undocumented immigrants

Immigrants who’ve entered the United States with false documents may have a path to permanent residence.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in New York has clarified that it will allow immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who entered with fraudulent papers to interview here for permanent residence.
Less than a month ago, I wrote that immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who entered with false documents should hold off on applying for permanent residence. That’s because applicants whose cases were commenced after April 30, 2001, must prove that they were “inspected and admitted” at entry to qualify for the privilege of interviewing in the U.S.
The USCIS sometimes ruled that an applicant who entered with false documents had not been inspected and thus was not eligible to interview here.
Now the USCIS in New York has announced that it will consider someone who enters with false documents to have been inspected and admitted. That benefits immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who can now interview here (adjust status) despite entry with false documents.
Included in the immediate relative category are the spouse of a U.S. citizen, the parent of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21, and the younger-than-21, unmarried child of a U.S. citizen.
A person who wants to adjust status after entering without valid documents must get the USCIS to waive, or forgive, the unlawful entry. But at least they can fight for permanent residence while in the U.S. To get the waiver, the applicant must prove that their permanent resident or U.S. - citizen spouse or parent will suffer extreme hardship.
Let us take the case of John, an undocumented immigrant who is married to a U.S. citizen. After a U.S. consul abroad denied John a visitor’s visa, he got a passport with someone else’s name and applied again for a visa. This time, the consul stamped a visa in the passport. Using the false passport John came to the U.S.
John can interview here for permanent residence using his real name provided he can convince the USCIS that he presented himself to a government office at entry.
Because he used a passport with someone else’s name, the USCIS will likely conclude that while John is eligible to adjust status, he is nevertheless ineligible for permanent residence.
While he was inspected at entry, he also committed fraud. So, John must apply for a fraud waiver based on hardship to his wife. If the USCIS grants the waiver, John will get his permanent residence. If the USCIS denies the waiver, John can ask an immigration judge to grant him permanent residence.
This path to permanent residence is a bit rocky. Still, for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who entered with false documents, the new policy provides hope.
Clearly, you should not try this without speaking to an immigration law expert.

Undocumented police rookie
Q. I’ve lived in the United States undocumented since I was 9 months old. I’m 17 now and I want to join the New York Police Department once I graduate high school. Can I fulfill this dream? I was born in Mexico. I came here without a visa when I was just an infant. I have been attending school here and I am now a Youth Explorer with the NYPD. My two sisters and my brother were born here. My biggest dream is to become a police officer and serve this country. Is it true that I can’t join the Police Department because I’m undocumented? Is there any hope for me?
- Junior, New York

A. If Congress passes the DREAM Act, you will be on your way to fulfilling your dream. The DREAM Act would grant legal status to undocumented immigrants who entered before age 15 or 16 - depending on which version becomes law - who had been in the U.S. for at least five years.
Permanent residents may enter the Police Academy, but only citizens may become New York City police officers. As an undocumented immigrant, you can’t move beyond your Youth Explorer status.
I included your letter this week because I want to publicize the situation faced by many of New York’s young people who have the capabilities and desire to serve our community but who can’t do so because of their immigration status. I encourage young undocumented New Yorkers to send me their stories.irm that you would be sworn in in federal court.

Allan Wernick is a lawyer and director of the City University of New York Citizenship and Immigration Project. He is the author of “U.S. Immigration and Citizenship - Your Complete Guide, Revised 4th Edition.” Send questions and comments to Allan Wernick, Daily News, 450 West 33rd Street, New York, N.Y. 10001. Professor Wernick’s web site is www.allanwernick.com.

Allan Wernick’s Immigration column is reprinted from the Thursday, October 16 edition of the New York Daily News.

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