How can an immigrant student gain legalization?

I know a child that has been here ever since she was 6 years old. Her parents brought her here illegally. She excels in school and doesn’t have any grades below an A. Is the anything that can be done for her, maybe applying for a student visa so she can gain legalization and go to college?

Asked on October 10, 2011 under Immigration Law, North Carolina


SB, Member, California / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

It depends on how old she is currently.  If  she was brought to the US unlawfully, under the current immigration laws, she cannot do anything within the US to legalize her status.  She would have to go back to her home country and try to obtain a valid visa.  However, if she is over the age of 18 and a half, as soon as she departs the US, she automatically triggers a 3 year bar to reentry, which can only be waived by a showing of extreme hardship to a US citizen spouse; if she is over the age of 19, that becomes a 10 year bar to reentry.  If she is still under the age of 18 and a half, and she has a valid basis to immigrate (through her parents, etc) or obtain a student visa, then she should go back to her home country and try to obtain a visa through lawful means and her unlawful presence within the US to date will not count against her.

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