Legal Options for an Undocumented Immigrant to Stay in the US


In Florida, 20.9% of the population was foreign-born in 2017. But that doesn’t represent the whole population. There are many undocumented immigrants.

If you entered the United States without permission, you are an undocumented immigrant. The same is true of people who overstay their visas. Because undocumented immigrants could face deportation, it’s important to take the necessary steps to become legal. You might be able to become a legal immigrant if you do one of the following.

1. Marry a Citizen

If you marry a U.S. citizen, you immediately become eligible for a green card. However, individuals who entered the country illegally may not be eligible. The only way in which they can get a green card through marriage is through certain loopholes. You should speak to an attorney to find out if any of those laws apply to you.

This option is mostly reserved for individuals who overstayed their visas. Without ever leaving the country, they can apply for a green card. The main requirement is that the marriage is genuine. Before they issue you a green card, the USCIS will interview you and your partner. If they have doubts about your marriage, they won’t issue you a green card.

It’s worth noting that you may be able to marry a permanent resident rather than a citizen. However, your chances of a green card are less certain. You have less priority and will have to wait longer to adjust your status.

2. You Served in the Military

If you meet all of the requirements and served in the military for a specific war or conflict, you could be eligible for U.S. citizenship. Only individuals who served in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War, or Operation Enduring Freedom can seek citizenship.

If you think you may be eligible, you should speak to an attorney. They can assess your eligibility.

3. Cancellation of Removal

In some cases, immigrants are arrested before they can become legal. However, you may have a last resort. You can seek a cancellation of removal. If your attempt is successful, you can remain in the country and seek a green card.

To have a successful cancellation of removal, you need to meet all of the following requirements:

  • Have been present in the US for ten years or longer
  • Showed good character for your time in the country
  • Your removal would cause hardship to a family member (one who is a citizen or permanent resident)
  • You aren’t disqualified from cancellation for any reason

4. Asylum

Some individuals are able to apply for asylum, even if they entered the country illegally. But like all of the other ways of staying in the U.S., you need to meet the requirements. For instance, you need to apply within one year of your entry to the country or the expiration of your visa.

The main requirement is to show that you were persecuted or have a reason to be concerned about future persecution. The persecution must be due to one of the following:

  • Religion
  • Race
  • Political beliefs
  • Nationality
  • Social group membership

To receive asylum, you must apply with the proper form and show evidence that your concerns are valid.

5. Temporary Protected Status

This option is for those who come from a country that experienced a natural disaster, civil war, or other events that make the area unsafe. At times, the country will issue the victims with Temporary Protective Status.

To find out if you are eligible for this status or any others, contact They can explain more about your options.