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 theparent. 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 applicants with US citizen sponsors to remain in this country from the time when their applications are logged in to the time 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 advertised in The Emigrant.

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 regularly amend regulations and alter processing and filing procedures. For legal advice seek the assistance of an IIIC immigration specialist or an immigration lawyer.

Irish International Immigrant Center

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

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

E-mail: immigration@iiicenter.org Web site: www.iiicenter.org

An organization accredited by the US Department of Justice