Can you tell me different ways to receive a green card and ultimately permanent residency in the US?

I am 18 years old, living illegally in the U.S. I was brought here by my parents when I was 3 years old. I was unaware of my illegal status here until I turned 18 (5 months ago). I would like to know what my options are for obtaining a green card and ultimately permanent residency in the US as quickly as possible so I can attend college and get a job to pay for it.

Asked on October 28, 2011 under Immigration Law, Virginia


SB, Member, California / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Green card IS permanent residence.  You started accruing unlawful presence time as soon as you turned 18.  However, if it has not yet been 180 days since you turned 18, if you depart the US now, you will actually be able to get a visa (assuming someone sponsors you for one) and be able to legally enter the US.  If, however, 180 days pass and you attempt to do this, you will be barred from reentry for 3 years; if you are unlawfully present for a year or longer past your 18th birthday, you will be barred from reentry for 10 years if you depart the US.  If you do not do anything and  just remain in the US, under the current immigration laws, you are not eligible to adjust status to permanent residence (green card) within the US.

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