If you are an immigrant currently based in Pennsylvania, you are probably looking forward to achieving the American dream. However, that dream may fade if you didn’t undergo inspection when you entered the country. It’s important to know what can happen if you enter the United States, but there is no evidence of your lawful entry.
How is lawful entry proven?
When you file Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status, you must prove your entry into the U.S. was lawful. Lawful entry means you were properly inspected and presented documentation while meeting with an immigration officer who witnessed your entry. This takes place at ports of entry where you show your passport and visa. It must involve your most recent entry and should include:
- Form I-94 Arrival-Departure Record
- Passport page with admission stamp as issued by an immigration officer
- Passport page with nonimmigrant visa
- Border crossing card, which only applies to Mexican citizens
What if there’s no evidence of lawful entry?
Sometimes, it’s possible to lawfully enter the U.S. but not have one of the documents needed to show an immigration officer. This often occurs when someone is in a vehicle and waved in at a border entry. However, per immigration law, as long as you had the right documentation with you, even if you had a visa that has since expired, it’s considered a lawful entry. This is referred to as the Visa Waiver Program.
Individuals who entered the country via the Visa Waiver Program are not eligible to adjust their status. However, there’s an exception for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, including spouses or unmarried children younger than 21. When Form I-485 is filed, the individual must include a copy of the then-valid passport page and a personal declaration that he or she lawfully entered the country.
Sometimes, evidence isn’t always required for lawful entry. Individuals who file Form I-485 for asylum, special immigrant juveniles and some others don’t need it.
It’s important to have all the right evidence needed to support your lawful entry into the U.S. Be thorough, and speak with a professional who can assist you.