If you have DACA, how can you get a green card? Although there are proposals in Congress, at the moment this is the way to get a DACA green card. To begin, there isn’t a law that says if you are a DACA holder, you will get a green card, or you will get citizenship automatically.
You can, however, use your DACA status to open some doors. First off, the benefits of DACA are that you can obtain employment authorization, obtain protection from removal proceedings, not accrue unlawful presence, and apply for advance parole. The DACA program does not give you any sort of immigration status, however. Of these benefits, two of the most important for obtaining lawful permanent residence are unlawful presence and advance parole.
What is Unlawful Presence?
Unlawful presence is different from unlawful status. DACA holders do not have lawful status, and, in other words, have unlawful status. If someone has DACA status, they do not have a lawful immigration status. In comparison, a lawful permanent resident has a lawful immigrant status.
If someone has a lawful immigrant status, they do not accrue unlawful presence. The important thing about DACA holders is that they do not accrue unlawful presence so long as they have DACA. We will discuss this further ahead.
Do You have a lawful entry?
If you are a DACA recipient, it’s important to verify how you entered the USA. For those who did not enter legally, then generally you have to go back to your country of birth for consular processing to get your green card. If you entered legally or you can get a legal entry, then you can generally get legal status in the USA. Without a lawful entry, you generally cannot get a green card or citizenship in the USA.
The DACA program gives you protection from being deported and it allows you to get a work permit. There are other benefits, of course, but to keep it simple. The two main advantages of having DACA when you are going to become a lawful permanent resident is the advance parole and the age you became a DACA recipient. Once you turn 18, that’s when the lawful presence starts accruing. If you’ve got DACA before 18 and you have renewed continuously, then you shouldn’t have any unlawful presence.
DACA and Advance Parole
Although every case is different, advance parole can provide many benefits. Advance parole can provide many benefits, but it is not a one-way ticket to a green card. In some cases, an individual may be eligible to obtain legal permanent residency, or as it is commonly known a green card, with the help of advance parole.
When you have DACA, you are not obtaining unlawful presence. Thankfully now with this new administration, people are able to exit the US and come back in with advance parole, assuming that there is no other ground of inadmissibility, no other ground that negatively affects them.
Although advance parole for DACA is technically not a lawful entry, the way the law is written, advance parole can be used to adjust status and get your green card. As of writing this article, DACA and advance parole do allow you to get a green card assuming everything else is in order. If you did not have a lawful entry into the United States, then you generally have to return to your country of birth. For these cases, you might even need a waiver to waive your unlawful presence.
Keep in mind, advance parole just gives you a lawful means to obtain a green card. Advance parole does not erase any other ground of inadmissibility. If a person is permanently barred from becoming a resident, obtaining advance parole will not change your eligibility. Additionally, if you have other negative factors in your case, such as a criminal record, advance parole will not change how this affects your immigration eligibility.
And that is beneficial because let’s say even if you have to travel back to your country of origin for your interview, the advantages, you don’t have to submit that waiver petition, assuming that’s your only ground of inadmissibility. And the benefit of that is at the moment, you know, those petitions, provisional waivers, at least they’re taking about two to three years. If you don’t need to wait that long, then you know it’s going to speed up the process. In this case, with advance parole you may be able to go from DACA to Green Card.
So those are the two main ways that DACA will help you in obtaining lawful permanent residence. Advance parole can help you get an immigrant visa. It’s not a one-way ticket to a green card, but it can help you become a green card holder. To get permanent resident status in the USA, you must have entered the United States with a legal entry.
Will a dream act pass? It’s unclear. Since DACA’s inception, numerous proposals have been proposed. Unfortunately, none of them have become immigration law. It’s been political with both sides kicking the can down the road.
If immigration reform passes, we’d have to see exactly what’s being proposed. In addition, we would have to see who qualifies. At the moment, it’s just a lot of guessing, a lot of speculation. Until then, the information in the article contains the information on how DACA beneficiaries can get lawful permanent residence. Contact immigration attorney Jesus Martinez if you need help with your case at (559) 777-6587, or another local immigration lawyer in your area.
If you have questions on what you need to apply for DACA, read our article.