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Hard for you to get green card if you sneak into U.S.

Hard for you to get green card if you sneak into U.S.

Q: I came here by sneaking across the border and then became the father of a U.S. citizen daughter. When my daughter turns 21, can I get a green card through her?

R.R., Dallas

A: Despite your having a U.S. citizen daughter, you can’t get a green card easily. Cases like yours provide a great example for why we need immigration reform. It makes no sense for a person who has lived here so long, with strong family ties here, to have to fear deportation.

Because you “entered without inspection,” you must return to your home country for a green card interview. Once you leave the United States, the law bars you from returning for 10 years. The law provides for a waiver, but only for the child or spouse of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. So, unless you have a qualifying relative, to get a green card you would need to be abroad for a full 10 years.

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Q: My husband got his green card based on his mother’s petition. However, his date of birth on the petition is wrong. Can he nevertheless become a U.S. citizen? We both want to naturalize.

S.T., Phoenix

A: Your husband can naturalize without concern if he qualified to get the green card despite the error.

Some green card categories depend on a person’s age. If your husband got his green card in a category for which he didn’t qualify because he had “aged out” of that category, but at the time he qualified in another category, he’ll be fine.

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My guess is that any problem would come because some categories have longer waits. Suppose your husband got your green card in category A, but he was too old to qualify in that category. He might have qualified in category B, but because of a quota backlog, no visa was available in that category. That’s a problem.

Put another way, if the consular officer had known his true birth date, could the officer have issued the visa? If the answer is “yes,” your husband is fine. If not, he got his green card unlawfully.

Allan Wernick is an attorney and director of the City University of New York’s Citizenship Now! project. Send questions and comments to Allan Wernick, New York Daily News, 7th Fl., 4 New York Plaza, New York, N.Y., 10004 or email to questions@allanwernick.com. Follow him on Twitter @awernick.

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Hard for you to get green card if you sneak into U.S.

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