I am a US citizen and want to file a petition for a green card for my spouse. During his initial attempts to enter the United States 10 years ago, he was apprehended by border patrol agents and deported from the United States. Some days later he attempted re-entry into the United States avoiding Immigration authorities but was apprehended again and removed again. Is it true that my spouse may be disqualified for a green card for his past deportation?
Unfortunately, likely yes. There is an Immigration bar that states that a noncitizen who has been formally removed/deported from the United States and then subsequently attempts to re-enter or re-enters the US without being inspected and admitted by an immigration officer is permanently barred from obtaining an immigration benefit such as a green card.
I heard that immigration bars were for 10 years, so should not the fact that his past removal happened 10 years ago mean he no longer has the bar?
It is true that there are other bars that last for a specific period of 10 years, but this bar is permanent. The 10 year element in this bar which you may have heard about is a requirement that the noncitizen live outside the US for a period of 10 years before being able to apply for a specific application requesting re-entry which if granted will now allow for approval of the green card. Grimly stated you can look at this bar as a potential life sentence with a 10 year absolute minimum.
So even if my spouse has never had any issues with law enforcement, not even ever being cited for a speeding ticket and has lived in the United States working and paying taxes, just because of the past departures, my spouse won’t be able to obtain a green card?
Unfortunately, most likely yes. The law does not grant any authority to an immigration official to waive or overcome the bar simply because of your spouse’s good conduct and productivity.
Ok, but a few months after the last deportation, my spouse was granted a tourist visa which he then used to enter the United States at a border checkpoint. I had heard that such a legal entry avoids the permanent bar.
It is true that a legal entry after a removal order will avoid the permanent bar since the permanent bar requires a subsequent attempted re-entry without being inspected and admitted by an immigration officer. However, in your case, remember that your spouse did attempt such a re-entry attempting to avoid inspection before his subsequent legal admission. This attempted re-entry avoiding immigration authorities is what subjects him to the permanent bar although he later re-entered with a legal admission.
What if any options do, we have then?
See our discussion on potential options and strategies in dealing with the permanent bar based on a prior removal by clicking here.
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