Illegal Immigration: How to Immigrate if You Live in the US Illegally

posted byLA Attorneys GroupMay 5, 2021

Illegal immigration is a common way to move to the United States, as approximately 10.5 and 12 million immigrants are undocumented .

If you happened to be one of many undocumented immigrants in the United States and are hoping to obtain a Green Card, we are here to provide information and help.

In this article, we are going to be discussing the following:

How to Define Illegal Immigration

An illegal immigrant is often referred to as undocumented immigration, a phrase that better describes what illegal immigration actually is.

Illegal or undocumented immigration is when someone immigrates to the United States without the right documentation or authorization. In other words, they have bypassed or avoided long-term immigration procedures.

This includes those who entered the United States on a short-term visa or nonimmigrant visa, for work or vacation, and stayed past the expiration date. Temporary visas are a legal form of entering the US. However, using them to stay in the US permanently is illegal.

There are consequences for overstaying a nonimmigrant visa , such as deportation which tends to be unlikely. Or, one might be barred from entering the United States for at least three years after the violation.

When a nonimmigrant visa is granted, the period one is allowed to stay in the United States is clearly outlined on the I-94 document.

An extension may be granted. However, one must apply through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

How to Permanently Immigrate to the US If You Live Here Illegally

If you have illegally immigrated to the U.S. and now wish to become a permanent citizen, you are still required to go through the normal immigration process.

First, it is a misconception that living in the United States for a certain period of time illegally guarantees a green card.

This only applies if the person is being deported and wants to appeal if they have already been in the United States for over 10 years, also known as the Cancellation of Removal .

However, in this case, there are a number of other parameters for a green card to be granted. This includes proving that you or your family would suffer “extreme hardship” as a result of your deportation.

Additionally, you must prove that you have not been convicted of any crimes and that you have a strong case for staying in the United States.

Although one can also obtain a Green Card if they have lived in the United States, either legally or illegally, since January 1, 1972, this immigrant must still go through “registry.”

They must be eligible for a long-term resident card or a green card, meaning they have not left the United States since they came, and they have not committed any crimes while living in the United States.

There are a number of ways to obtain a Green Card, let’s outline some of the most common ways.

The first way to obtain a Green Card is through family, meaning your immediate family members are current U.S. citizens or Green Card, holders. This is called a family-based green card.

However, you can only obtain this type of green card if your familial relationship with a U.S citizen falls in one of the following categories:

  • Immediate family members such as spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents of those who are over the age of 21
  • One can also obtain a Green Card if they are the fiance of a U.S. citizen or the child of a fiance of a U.S. citizen.
  • A widow or widower of a U.S. citizen
  • A victim of violence or battery who is a child, spouse, or parents of a U.S. citizen

The second way to obtain a Green card is through employment if they are an immigrant worker falling under one of the following categories:

  • Employment First Preference: These are people who are categorized as having “extraordinary abilities” in their field, professors and researchers continuing their positions in education, or those working for multinational companies and who have been working in executive positions.
  • Employment Second Preference: This category includes those who “exceptional ability” in their given field, far above their colleagues.
  • Employment Third Preference: This category encompasses all workers: skilled, professional, and unskilled. Each of these subcategories is determined by the nature of work and the level of education.

How an Immigration Attorney Can Help, Illegal Immigration

An immigration attorney can be immensely helpful on your road to citizenship especially since new immigration legislation is being passed and implemented which makes it more difficult to immigrate legally.

Consulting an immigration attorney will help you navigate certain laws and rules that could prevent you from gaining citizenship, such as the “public charge rule” or being denied citizenship due to a minor error like incomplete documentation.

Additionally, obtaining a Green Card or citizenship in the United States is not easy and requires countless documents, interviews, and extensive resources, all of which LA Attorneys will help you with.

At LA Attorneys, our dedicated immigration attorneys will guide you through the immigration process of gaining a citizenship visa so that you can permanently become a naturalized United States citizen.


Becoming a United States citizen is a complicated process that requires years of preparation and countless interviews and applications, often making illegal immigration the only choice.

However, LA Attorneys are here to help. If you are an undocumented immigrant living in the U.S. and have any further questions regarding applying for citizenship or hope to become a naturalized United States citizen, contact LA Attorneys today for guidance.

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