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Avoid unlawful presence. Apply for asylum within the first six months.

Under U.S. immigration law, anyone present in the country without legal immigration status is accumulating "unlawful presence." Political asylum is one of the tools that protects you from this situation.

When someone enters the United States illegally and does not apply for any immigration benefits, they face one of the most significant and common obstacles to obtaining permanent residency: the three and ten-year bans that prohibit reentry to the country if they have to leave at any point. This situation arises as a consequence of accumulating unlawful presence in the country. How can you avoid it? Applying for political asylum within the first six months of your arrival in the country is the recommended option.

Under U.S. immigration law, anyone present in the country without legal immigration status is accumulating "unlawful presence." This can have severe consequences, especially if more than six months are accumulated. The individual may face a reentry ban. If they accumulate more than six months but less than one year of unlawful presence and then leave the country, they may be banned from reentering the United States for three years; if they accumulate one year or more of unlawful presence and leave the country, the reentry ban is ten years.

infografia sobre asilo politico y refugiados
Applying for political asylum is a human right regulated under the framework of international public law and human rights.

How can I avoid accumulating unlawful presence?

One way to avoid accumulating unlawful presence is by applying for political asylum within the first six months of entering the country. This is because the asylum application is recognized by law as an exception that interrupts the build-up of unlawful presence.

When an asylum application is filed, the build-up of unlawful presence stops from the moment it is formally received by U.S. immigration authorities. This means that from the filing date of the application, no more unlawful presence time is accumulated.

By not accumulating more than six months of unlawful presence, the applicant avoids the three or ten-year reentry bans that could apply if they had to leave the country for any reason. This is particularly important if, in the future, the applicant seeks to adjust their status to permanent resident through other means, such as a labor certification or a family petition.

For example, suppose a person crosses the border and enters the United States without legal documentation. If that person applies for asylum within the first six months, they avoid prolonged accumulation of unlawful presence. Later, if this person receives a job offer that allows them to adjust their status through a labor certification, or if they have a U.S. citizen family member who can file a family petition, they will not have to face reentry bans or request a waiver for the accumulated unlawful presence.

What to do if you find yourself in this situation?

If you entered the United States and submitted your asylum application within the first six months, congratulations! You are in an excellent position to become a permanent resident in the United States.

If your situation is different and you have not yet submitted your asylum application, don’t worry! There is still time. If you are within those first six months, hurry to submit your application, and if you have already exceeded this period, call us, and we will surely find an option for you.

Remember, the best advice is always to seek guidance from an immigration attorney to ensure that your immigration process is handled correctly. At Legal en USA, an immigration law firm in Miami, we are here to help you. Call us at 305-446-8686 to receive the best advice and assistance on immigration matters.


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