Bars to Returning to the United States

Working to Help You Return to the U.S. after Removal

When an individual is deported or removed from the United States, he or she may be banned temporarily or permanently from returning to the country. This typically occurs under certain specific circumstances, such as when a person is found to be residing unlawfully in the U.S. However, in some instances, an individual may be barred from returning to the U.S. if they leave after previously having lived in the country illegally. This can cause individuals who would otherwise qualify for a green card under the family category to feel as though they must choose between leaving the U.S. in order to apply for lawful permanent residence and risk being barred or remain unlawfully in the country.

If you are concerned about bars to returning to the U.S., either for yourself or for a loved one, our firm can help. At Brown Immigration Law, we assist immigrants from all walks of life and in all types of circumstances. Our Southfield-based attorneys can work to defend your ability to stay in or return to the United States. We are adept at handling highly complex cases; our legal team looks for creative solutions tailored to your particular circumstances and concerns.

Make an appointment for a case evaluation today; call (888) 861-4414 or submit an online contact form to get started.

The Three- and Ten-Year Bar Rule

Under the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) of 1996, foreign nationals who accrue “unlawful presence” in the U.S., then leave and wish to re-enter the country lawfully can face re-entry bars. Though “unlawful presence” is not technically defined by the applicable statute, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) uses specific guidelines to determine if an individual has accrued unlawful presence. These guidelines include individuals who enter the U.S. without proper authorization (a visa, green card, etc.) and/or those who overstay a visa or authorized lawful residence period.

Following these guidelines, the three- and ten-year bars are as follows:

  • Individuals who have been found to have accrued an unlawful presence of 180 days to less than one year face a three-year ban from returning to the U.S. upon departure.
  • Individuals who have accrued more than one year of unlawful presence face a ten-year bar on re-entering the U.S. if they leave.

In many cases, the three- and ten-year bars pose a serious problem for individuals who wish to obtain lawful permanent residence. For example, if your spouse entered the U.S. with a visa but that visa has since expired, he or she will need to leave the U.S. and apply for lawful permanent residence through consular processing. If your spouse is found to have accrued unlawful presence during the time his or her visa was expired, he or she may be unable to return to the U.S.

Three- and Ten-Year Bar Waivers

It is possible to waive the three- and ten-year bars in certain, specific cases. If the individual in question is the spouse or child of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (green card holder) and he or she can demonstrate that the three- or ten-year bar would cause “extreme hardship” for the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, the bar may be waived. It is important to note that this is only possible if the visa applicant can show that the spouse or parent in the U.S. would face hardship; hardship for the non-U.S. citizen/foreign national or his/her children is not taken into account.

Other Bars to Re-Entry to the U.S.

In addition to the three- and ten-year bars, you or your loved one may be barred from returning to the U.S. in the event of prior removal, fraud or misrepresentation, or a criminal conviction. In certain cases, a permanent ban may be placed on an individual. This includes instances in which a person attempts to return to the U.S. before his or her bar is lifted or when a person is found guilty of certain crimes.

If you or your loved one has been barred from returning the United States, it is important to remember that you still have options. At Brown Immigration Law, we can help you understand your legal rights and work to defend your ability to stay in or return to the U.S. If you have not yet been barred but you believe you may be barred from returning to the U.S., we can help you determine the best course of action. Our immigration lawyers have more than 70 years of legal experience and we are prepared to advocate for you.

Reach out to Brown Immigration Law today to schedule a case evaluation with our legal team. Call (888) 861-4414 to make an appointment.

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