Some people are barred from entering the U.S. for any reason – even when they’d ordinarily be qualified – because they were found to be unlawfully present in the country in the past. These bars to admittance are called unlawful presence bars, and they typically last either 3 or 10 years… but sometimes, they’re permanent.
Unlawful Presence Bars in U.S. Immigration
If you’ve been unlawfully present in the U.S. and you’ve been caught, you’re likely to be barred from coming back for a certain period of time (even if you could ordinarily apply for a visa). Unlawful presence means that you either came into the U.S. without being properly admitted or paroled, or that you overstayed a visa or other authorization to be in the country.
3-Year Unlawful Presence Bars
If you’re not a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. and the courts found you guilty of being in the country illegally for more than 180 days but less than a year, you are subject to a 3-year unlawful presence bar. The condition to a 3-year bar is that you leave the country voluntarily; if you go through removal proceedings, you could be inadmissible for a longer period.
10-Year Unlawful Presence Bars
If you were in the U.S. for more than a year during a single stay on or after April 1, 1997, and your presence was unlawful, you could be subject to a 10-year bar to reentry.
Permanent Unlawful Presence Bars
You can be permanently barred from coming back to the United States if you were in the U.S. for more than a year (in one stay or over a series of stays) after April 1, 1997 and you entered (or tried to enter) the U.S. without proper admittance.
Can You Avoid an Unlawful Presence Bar?
The best way to avoid being barred from the United States because you were here unlawfully is to follow the proper route for admittance – and that’s something our experienced Milwaukee immigration attorneys may be able to help you with. If you’re considering immigrating to the U.S., call us at 414-383-6700 to schedule a consultation with an immigration attorney today.