Time in the U.S. does not matter (usually)

Many unauthorized immigrants to the United States have been in the country a long time. In fact, about 66 percent have been in the United States 10 years or more. If this applies to you or a loved one, you may think you (or the loved one) have more rights to stay in the country than someone who arrived in the past year.

However, this is not the case. You could have built extensive roots and contributed mightily to your community and still end up with your status in jeopardy.

The bottom line

In this current political environment, the bottom line is that any unauthorized immigrant is in danger of being deported, no matter what. However, there may be options you can pursue, so it is important to talk with a lawyer. For instance, it could be that if you return to your home country as soon as possible, one of your relatives who is legally in the United States could sponsor you for a visa. Alternatively, you might be able to stay in the country and qualify for a waiver.

More recent arrivals

Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Germany seem to have the most visa overstayers in the United States (in that order). In fact, many unauthorized immigrants in the United States simply overstayed business or tourist visas, meaning they were legal at some point. So, if you are in the country legally but your visa is about to expire, it is a good idea to meet with a lawyer as quickly as possible. You can then explore legally sound avenues to stay in the country, perhaps through a construction or service industry job.

There are many misconceptions about illegal immigrants. Many work hard and build invaluable ties to their communities. Many also entered the United States legally in the first place. Unfortunately, no matter if you entered legally and have strong community ties, your place in the country might be in jeopardy. A lawyer could be able to help.