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I used this case as a teaching lesson recently. It’s worth repeating here because of the amount of people who find themselves in this situation.

Here was my prompt for the students:

FN (“Foreign National”) came over at age 4 EWI (“Entry Without Inspection”), about to graduate from University with an Engineering degree and marry a U.S. Citizen. Can he get his green card or is he destined to dream forever? What do you think?

My quick answer:

I think we can win FN’s case. But, FN must be willing to return to his home country and seek a Waiver of Inadmissibility there. Depending on what country he is from, this could take between 3-12 months and is not guaranteed to be successful. While I did not mention it in my fact pattern above, this FN has additional problems like a False Claim to US Citizenship (which is a big deal in immigration law).

The take-home lesson here is that if you entered without inspection in order for you to adjust your immigration status you have to leave the United States. Many people do not want to do this and therefore they will not go forward with her case. For those that do want to go forward, it is essential that they have a good immigration attorney who deeply cares them. They will have to put together a very thorough and persuasive case before the embassy or consulate office.

The exception to the rule I mention above is if the foreign national had someone submit a petition for them on or before April 30, 2001. If this happened, then they will benefit from something called the 245(i) exception. but again they will need an attorney to navigate them through this.