If you wish to apply for a green card, you must be inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States. For those who EWI, or enter without being inspected, there are ways to still apply for a green card. One of these methods is a result of a recent decision in Matter of Arrabally and Yerrabelly, 25 I&N De. 771. In this case, a husband and wife entered the United States on tourist visas, and stayed for more than five years before applying for an adjustment of status as beneficiaries of an employment-based visa petition. The couple's applications were held for several years due to visa retrogression, but during this time, the couple requested and received advance parole to visit their elderly parents in India. Every time they left the country, the couple returned within the terms of their advance parole.
Upon their most recent return from India, the immigration judge denied their applications and left them subject to the ten year bar because they had left the United States. The BIA reversed, finding that leaving under advance parole does not qualify as a departure. This allowed the couple to be paroled back into the U.S., and the husband and wife were allowed to adjust their statuses. How does this relate to you, you may ask? If you entered the United States without inspection, you may be able to eliminate prior unlawful entries by reentering the country with the government's consent. Prior to the Arrabally case, if you were granted a Temporary Protected Status by the USCIS and left the country, your absence would be considered a departure. As a result, you would be banned from reentering the U.S. for three to ten years, depending on how long you were in the U.S. unlawfully.
However, with the help of the Arrabally case, if you are granted Temporary Protected Status by the USCIS, and you leave the country, you will be paroled back into the United Sates upon your return. The fact that you previously entered the U.S. without being inspected will be disregarded, and you may be eligible to adjust your status. Please note that this is a recent and still somewhat complicated argument. This article is not meant to serve as legal advice, and the argument may vary depending on the facts of each individual case. To learn if you may qualify for a green card after entering without being inspected, please contact the Los Angeles immigration attorney at The Immigration Law Office of Los Angeles, P.C.