How to Obtain a Green Card Pardon if you are Undocumented


Area of Law: 


Obtaining a green card in order to live and work legally in the United States can be very difficult and expensive, and many are not aware of the laws or methods to attain legal status.  Many are misinformed or simply do not know how to proceed.  In January of 2012, the law changed regarding spouses and children of US Citizens. 

To bypass long separation from their kin, visa papers and documents are allowed for approval in the US rather than in another foreign country. The processing of visas abroad has long caused fear and doubt that a pardon may be revoked or delayed for a long period of time, ranging from months to years. This ambivalence has led many to opt to remain in the US undocumented instead of risking the odds of being denied or delayed from their visa, which would ultimately result in long separation from their loved ones.

The US Congress finally took notice of this burden placed on so many American families, thus changing the law for families to be able to stay together with only a minimal time for separation.

These green card pardons have diminished the requirement of Congress-based judgments and movements. It allows the Immigration Service to carry out policies that consider the improvement of resources and effectiveness of the Immigration Service through reducing the separation time of family members from each other. Green card pardons will allow thousands, if not millions, of unregistered residents to live and work legally since now they can apply for the required paperwork and documents in the US instead of having to go back to their home country.

If you are the spouse or child of a US Citizen, now is the time to apply for your Green Card in order to live and work legally in the USA.  Here's what you need to do:

1.  Start by visiting the USCIS website and learn about the process by clicking on "Green Card through Family."   
2.  The US Citizen has to file the Form I-130 on your behalf.   Simultaneously, you would file the Form I-485 .  This is called Concurrent Filing.
3.  If you do not wish to file concurrently, you can file any time after the US Citizien (your parent or spouse) files the form I-130.   Once you receive the form I-797 proving that you your spouse our parent has filed, you can then file the form I-485.

For further information, you can see a list of Green Card-Based Forms .

The cost to file the form I-130 is $420.  To file the form I-485, the cost is $1070.  There are exceptions to these fees, so make sure you review the special instructions for each Form so that you are certain to be sending the correct amount.

“Immediate relatives” of a U.S. citizen, defined as one’s spouse, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents, always have a visa number immediately available to them.  Filing these forms and incurring these costs may be expensive and time-consuming, but well worth it if your family member can finally live, drive, and work legally in the United States.

You  may wish to consult a lawyer before filing so they can help you with the application process.  Depending on how savvy you are, you may simply need a lawyer to help you review the application to make sure everything is correct, or you may wish to have the lawyer complete the application and filing process for you. 


Written by:  Marcela De Vivo works as a freelance writer with Oltarsh & Associates.