Overview of Adjustment of Status
According to INA Section 245(a), the status of an alien who was inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States may be adjusted by the Attorney General, in his discretion and under such regulations as he may prescribe, to that of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence if:
- the alien makes an application for such adjustment,
- the alien is eligible to receive an immigrant visa and is admissible to the United States for permanent residence, and
- an immigrant visa is immediately available to him at the time his application is filed.
Overview of the 3 and 10 Year Unlawful Presence Bars
INA Section 212(a)(9)(B)(i) is broken into two (2) sub-groups:
- Section 212(a)(9)(B)(i)(I) of the Act (3-year bar). This provision renders inadmissible for three (3) years those aliens, who were unlawfully present for more than 180 days but less than one (1) year, and who departed from the United States voluntarily prior to the initiation of removal proceedings.
- Section 212(a)(9)(B)(i)(II) of the Act (10-year bar). This provision renders inadmissible an alien, who was unlawfully present for one (1) year or more, and who seeks again admission within ten (10) years of the date of the alien’s departure or removal from the United States.
Section 212(a)(9)(B)(ii) of the Act defines “unlawful presence” for purposes of sections 212(a)(9)(B)(i) and 212(a)(9)(C)(i)(I) of the Act to mean that an alien is deemed to be unlawfully present in the United States, if the alien is:
- present after the expiration of the period of stay authorized by the Secretary of Homeland Security; or
- present without being admitted or paroled.
Both the 3 and 10 year unlawful presence bars can be waived pursuant to section 212(a)(9)(B)(v) of the Act which states:
Waiver. – The [Secretary] has sole discretion to waive clause (i) in the case of an immigrant who is the spouse or son or daughter of a United States citizen or of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, if it is established to the satisfaction of the [Secretary] that the refusal of admission to such immigrant alien would result in extreme hardship to the citizen or lawfully resident spouse or parent of such alien.
This waiver pursuant to 212(a)(9)(B)(v) is applied for through the I-601 “extreme hardship” waiver discussed extensively on this web site.
Triggering the Bar by Departing the United States and Matter of Arrabally
In the past, an alien who was not inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States was ineligible for adjustment of status (unless protected under INA Section 245(i)). Such a person, when petitioned for permanent residence by a U.S. citizen spouse for example, had to leave the U.S. and attend a consular interview at the U.S. embassy abroad in order to complete the immigrant visa process.
By leaving the U.S. after accruing more than 180 days or one (1) year of unlawful presence, the 3-year or 10-year bar to admission under section 212(a)(9)(B) of the Act was triggered. The I-601 waiver was subsequently required.
In Matter of Arrabally and Yerrabelly, 25 I&N Dec. 771 (BIA 2012), the Board of Immigration Appeals held that an alien who leaves the United States temporarily pursuant to advance parole under section 212(d)(5)(A) of the Act does not make a departure from the United States within the meaning of section 212(a)(9)(B)(i)(II) of the Act.
Advance parole is an administrative practice derived from the general parole authority in INA § 212(d)(5), giving an individual who is in the United States advance authorization to enter the United States after temporary travel abroad. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has the authority to grant advance parole and issue a Form I-512L, an advance parole authorization document. Form I-512L allows a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) or other immigration inspector at a U.S. port-of-entry to parole an individual into the United States. Advance parole does not guarantee subsequent parole into the United States. The inspecting immigration official may, in his or her discretion, deny parole at the port-of-entry.
In a series of AAO decisions citing Matter of Arrabally and Yerrabelly thereafter, applicants who entered without inspection and subsequently obtained Temporary Protected Status (TPS), were allowed to use advance parole obtained pursuant to section 212(d)(5)(A) to temporarily leave the U.S., re-enter the U.S., and pursue pending applications for adjustment of status. They were deemed to have NOT made a “departure” from the United States for purposes of section 212(a)(9)(B)(i)(II) of the Act.
In other words, the 3 and 10 year unlawful presence bars were not triggered. Accordingly, the applicants were not deemed inadmissible under section 212(a)(9)(B)(i)(I) and 212(a)(9)(B)(i)(II) of the Act. Additionally, they were deemed to have been paroled into the United States, and now eligible for adjustment of status under INA Section 245(a).
In these cases, the applicants were allowed to proceed with their adjustment of status applications in the United States based upon their marriage to a U.S. citizen spouse. Just as importantly, the I-601 extreme hardship waiver was deemed unnecessary since the 3 and 10 year unlawful presence bars were not triggered.
It should be noted that this “beneficial interpretation” using Matter of Arrabally and Yerrabelly would extend to any immediate relative of a U.S. citizen applying for adjustment of status (i.e. the spouse, child under 21, or parent of a U.S. citizen son or daughter over 21 years old).
In summary, this has been welcome news for those granted TPS since Matter of Arrabally and Yerrabelly was decided. Those who entered the U.S. without inspection and overstayed for 6 months or longer, subsequently obtained Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and are married U.S. citizens, have been able to obtain advance parole, leave the United States, and re-enter the U.S. to proceed with their adjustment of status to permanent residence without need for the I-601 extreme hardship waiver.
Other Inadmissibility Considerations
Prior to traveling abroad under advance parole, it is important to determine whether other grounds of inadmissibility may apply. Keep in mind that Matter of Arrabally and Yerrabelly discussed above benefits those who are only subject to the 3 or 10 year bar upon their departure from the United States. As such, the inspecting immigration officer may deny entry into the United States for those holding advance parole if the officer finds that any of the other inadmissibility grounds apply.
For example, an applicant who has already triggered the unlawful presence bars under INA Section 212(a)(9)(B) or the permanent bar under INA Section 212(a)(9)(C) (by previously leaving and re-entering without advance parole) may still be subject to these bars.
Future travel under advance parole will not cure previously incurred bars. Immigration-related fraud or misrepresentation and false claims to U.S. citizenship can also bar admission. Thus, prior to departing the United States, applicants with advance parole must consider all other inadmissibility grounds including criminal inadmissibility grounds identified at INA Section 212(a)(2).
Unexecuted deportation or removal order. If such an order exists, and if the applicant were to depart the United States on advance parole, he or she likely would be found to have executed the deportation/removal order and may not be able to re-enter the United States for a prescribed period of time.
To avoid this, an applicant with an unexecuted removal order can submit a motion to reopen removal proceedings with the Immigration Court or the BIA. Once removal proceedings are reopened, the removal order no longer exists. The applicant can then move to administratively close or terminate the reopened proceedings. If either termination of proceedings or administrative closure is granted, the applicant can travel on advance parole without risking the consequences of an executed removal order. I typically contact the relevant ICE Office of the Chief Council (OCC) to request that the parties jointly move to reopen and then administratively close or terminate the removal proceedings.