April 12, 2022

Mike Sullivan

How can an illegal immigrant become legal? 4 ways to gain legal status

Illegal immigration to the U.S. may seem like a way to better opportunities. However, the truth is being an undocumented immigrant may pose a lot of challenges. Each day is spent in apprehension and hiding from law authorities to not get caught. Getting caught means possibly facing deportation back to your country. Deportation means families get separated, financial constraints, and other issues.

For illegal immigrants, the only way to avoid deportation is by obtaining long-term legal status. This means that migrants gain residency through holding green cards, and eventually US citizenship.

In this article, we take a deeper look at the 4 ways an illegal immigrant can gain legal immigration status.

How to Become a Legal Immigrant if You are Illegal

Undocumented immigrants refer to illegal immigrants or persons without legal immigration status. There are two ways in which people find themselves as illegal immigrants. These are:

• Entry into us using a visa but staying past the allowed period, or

• Entry into us without inspection

Fortunately for these people, there are ways in which they can become lawful permanent residents.

1. Obtaining a green card through marriage

Marriage to us citizens is one of the ways that illegal immigrants can gain legal immigration status. As long as you are a spouse to an American citizen, getting a green card becomes easier. The reason being you count as an immediate relative to a US citizen. other people that count as immediate relatives to US citizens are:

• Parents

• Children under the age of 21

An undocumented immediate relative can then go to immigration offices with the right documentation and have their entry acknowledged. From there, they may undergo an adjustment of status to a permanent resident. This paves way for them to eventually apply for US citizenship. For other categories, the procedures may be more complicated. However, contacting an immigration lawyer to guide you through the process makes it a little bit easier. For illegal immigrants living in Connecticut, you can go through the best immigration lawyers in CT and choose one that will fit your immigration needs.

2. Asylum status

Anyone who has faced persecution in their home country is eligible for asylum status in the US whether they got to the country legally or illegally. To be eligible for this status, you have to:

• Be in the US, legally or illegally.

• Have a well-founded fear of persecution that is backed by evidence.

• Your persecution reason is based on race, nationality, religion, political opinion, or a member of a political social group.

• You are not involved in any activities within the US that would bar you from seeking and getting asylum status.

To seek asylum status, your immigration lawyer files for asylum-seeking and withholding removal together with the evidence backing your claims. Typically, there will be a screening interview. It is advisable to use lawyers in a reputable firm to represent you in your case.

One year after receiving an asylum grant, you are eligible to apply for permanent residency and thereafter citizenship.

3. U Visa for Crime Victims

U visa was created in 2000 by the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act. Its main purpose is to protect crime victims who have aided law enforcement. This creates an environment where victims cooperate with law authorities without fear of being deported especially if they reside in the US illegally. A U visa provides employment authorization, and legal status, and can also be a path leading to permanent residency.

For you to be eligible for a U visa, the following requirements must be met:

• You must have suffered substantial mental abuse or physical abuse from a crime that qualifies as a criminal activity;

• You must have information regarding the criminal activity;

• The criminal activity violated the US laws; and

• You are helpful, helping, or are likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the crime.

Additional information about this type of visa can be found on this website.

4. Life Act Protection

The LIFE (Legal Immigration Family Equity) Act, gives DREAMers who have had the opportunity to higher education more benefits than those accorded to them under DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).

US employers may be willing to sponsor these undocumented immigrants showing high prospective in employment to attain green cards. Some instances will require the employer to go through Labor Certification before the petition for his employer. Even though the employee may be required to go back to his home country as this process goes on, if he/she is protected by the 245(i), then they can wait in the US  for this process.

The Life Act also allows illegal immigrants to finish their green card process in the US. This will only happen if on or before 30 April 2001, an immigrant petition was filed on their behalf or their parents. There may be other requirements required to be met case by case. You can read more on DACA on this site.


U.S. immigrants, whether they entered the country legally or illegally, have a right to a better and more comfortable life. Even though for such people it may seem like a dream far off, it is important to know that it is possible. In this article, we have touched basis on different ways that undocumented immigrants can become legal US citizens, with the possibility of attaining citizenship eventually.