Q: I’m undocumented and have been married to a US citizen for some time. We haven’t gotten around to filing for my green card based on my marriage. In the meantime we’ve had two children born in the US. Does this affect my immigration status?

A: While your children are US citizens themselves simply by virtue of their birth in the US, this has no automatic effect on your immigration status as the parent. You still are undocumented, and you still could be removed from the US if you come to the attention of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

It is imperative that you file for adjustment of status (green card) as soon as possible, with your US citizen spouse as the sponsor. It currently is the policy of the US immigration authorities to allow undocumented immediate relatives of US citizen sponsors to remain in this country from when their applications are logged in to when the decision is made on their case. Before that time, you are vulnerable to removal from the US. And note that the ability to remain in the US definitely does not mean that you can leave the country and return before the application has been processed.

There are a number of reasons why people delay filing applications for immigration benefits for which they are eligible. They sometimes seem to think that they have more important things to do and never get around to filing, sometimes for years. But what could be more important than keeping your family together in the US?

Also, don’t let “fear of forms” deter you. The application may appear complicated, but IIIC can take you through every step of the process, from collecting the necessary information and documents, to filling out the forms and finalizing the application package.

Another possible deterrent to filing the adjustment application is that the US citizen spouse does not earn enough to meet the minimum income requirements for sponsorship of the applicant. But this problem often can be solved by finding a “joint sponsor,” a third party (often but not necessarily a relative) who is willing to sign the necessary affidavit of support.

For a free, confidential consultation on family-based permanent residence or any other aspect of immigration law, visit one of our legal clinics.

Disclaimer: These articles are published to inform generally, not to advise in individual cases. Immigration law is always subject to change. US Citizenship and Immigration Services and the US Department of State frequently amend regulations and alter processing and filing procedures. For legal advice seek the assistance of IIIC immigration legal staff.

Up on the Hill and Around City Hall

Urgent Help Needed to Defeat Anti-Immigrant Housing Amendments

Among the many pleasures that summer brings we have also grown accustomed to witness the annual rush by Beacon Hill lawmakers to wind up their work before the end of the current legislative session. It is also an opportune time for some State Senators or Representatives to push through controversial proposals that are not likely to undergo the usual public scrutiny. Such is the case by Senate Assistant Minority Leader Robert Hedlund (Rep.-Weymouth) to put forward his pet legislation once again. His last minute amendments to the Public Housing bill can only be described, in the kindest terms, as blatantly anti-immigrant. Hedlund’s proposals would deny public housing benefits to certain classes of immigrants such as Haitian earthquake survivors and domestic violence victims.

The Irish International Immigrant Center urges you to contact your State Representative or Senator and request that these hateful amendments be rejected and excluded from the final Public Housing bill.

Boston Trust Act Hearing – July 31st

In Boston, another issue that affects the Irish community is the Trust Act. Government Operations Committee of the City Council has scheduled a public hearing for Thursday, July 31st at 6:00pm at City Hall to take up the proposed ordinance creating a Trust Act for Boston.

Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim filed the Trust Act bill, stating “The spirit of unity the Trust Act seeks to promote not only serves the interests of immigrants, but also enhances the efficacy of law enforcement by breaking down barriers to cooperation and allowing police to devote their resources to pursuing real criminals rather than using our limited resources to detain members of our community...” Under his plan, the city will no longer pay to jail them for ICE.

The Trust Act is in response to the “Secure Communities” deportation program whose implementation Governor Patrick sought to prevent in 2011. The objective of Secure Communities is to remove non-citizens who have committed crimes (other than minor violations) and thus pose a threat to U.S. society. Under the current system, when people are arrested, their fingerprints are run through a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) database. If it is determined that they are in the country illegally, ICE can require local authorities to hold them until their agents arrive to take them into custody. Under the proposed bill being considered by the Boston City Council, people released by the courts would not be handed over to immigration authorities unless the person was deemed a danger to the community or already had a felony conviction. Records show that half of those classified by ICE as "criminal deportees” since 2008 were individuals whose most serious conviction was illegal entry or a traffic violation.

Quote of the Week:

“The future is not set, there is no fate but what we make for ourselves”. – Irish proverb

Irish International Immigrant Center

100 Franklin Street, LL-1, Boston, MA 02110

Telephone (617) 542-7654 Fax (617) 542-7655

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An organization accredited by the US Department of Justice