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I once got caught entering the US illegally...

I once got caught entering the US illegally. Does that affect my case?

How does an old border stop affect my ability to get a United States visa, green card, or other immigration benefit? The attorneys at Antonini & Cohen Immigration Law Group receive this question quite often, but we will need to review your unique situation before answering this question. 

Entering the US – Legally and Illegally

People may attempt to enter the US multiple times before they are successful. Several things can happen during those unsuccessful attempts that affect your ability to seek US immigration benefits. When you meet with one of our immigration attorneys, you will be asked about the details of all of your trips into and out of the US. When, where, and how you entered and exited are very important pieces of information as each factor has consequences for your eligibility for certain immigration benefits.

Three Scenarios of Being Caught Illegally

  1. Voluntary Return: This is a situation where you may be caught entering the US illegally, but you are allowed to leave the US without being formally deported. During this process, you may be fingerprinted, photographed, and required to fill out paperwork. Those records are kept by the US government. With a voluntary return, you may still qualify for certain US immigration benefits depending on when and where this happened, how many times you got caught, what you said, and how the officials responded. If you don’t have this information, your Antonini & Cohen attorney can help you request those records from the US government before proceeding with your application for immigration benefits.
  2. Parole for Removal Proceedings: In this situation, you may be caught while entering the US, but are allowed to remain in the United States while you wait for a hearing with an immigration judge. We often hear that clients never attended those hearings because they didn’t understand when or where to go. If you don’t attend your hearing, you may have an outstanding order of deportation or removal. The US government considers you to be a fugitive. Ignoring that old order can be disastrous for your immigration case. A lawyer can help you try to reopen and resolve the old case so that you can seek US immigration benefits.
  3. Expedited Removal: This is when you are deported at the border without ever seeing a judge. If you previously had an Expedited Removal and later reentered the US, there are very few options under the law that will protect you from being physically deported. The trouble is that it can be hard to tell the difference between an Expedited Removal and a Voluntary Return because in both situations you can be fingerprinted, photographed, and required to fill out paperwork for the US government’s records. A lawyer can help you determine what actually happened, request records if needed, and make the right decision about how to proceed with your case.

It is very important to tell your immigration law attorney about each entry, border stop, and removal
Please contact Antonini & Cohen today to schedule a meeting with our experienced immigration attorneys. We will discuss your situation and help you understand your options and the process for seeking US immigration benefits.

Call us at 404.850.9394 or complete our contact form by clicking here.