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Why Entry, Exit, And Admission Issues Matter More Than You Think


Entry is one of the most important issues in U. S. immigration law. The circumstances surrounding an immigrant’s entry can make or break his or her ability to later become a lawful permanent resident.

As a permanent resident lawyer, I’ve interviewed many immigrants who do not grasp the importance of their entry, exit, and admission history.

In general, an immigrant who has been “admitted” to the United States is one who has made a lawful entry after inspection or authorization by an immigration officer.

On the other hand, a person who entered the country after going through the inspection and authorization process, is deemed to be accruing time in unlawful presence, which may may make them ineligible for permanent residence.

Entry issues go a lot deeper.  When you entered, why you entered, and whether you exited and re-entered could also affect your ability to win a green card.

As a result, if you plan to seek immigration benefits, either on your own or with the help of an attorney, you need to be prepared to answer the following questions about your entries, exits, and admission.

Table Of Contents

  1. When Did You Enter The United States?
  2. How Did You Enter The United States?
  3. Why Did You Enter The United States?
  4. Did You Ever Leave The United States After Your First Entry?
  5. Conclusion

1. When Did You Enter The United States?

Your entry date often determines your right to seek benefits under various programs.

For instance:

  • If you entered on or before January 1, 1972, you might be eligible for Registry.
  • If you entered ten or more years ago, you might be eligible to apply for Cancellation of Removal if the government ever tries to deport you.

2. How Did You Enter The United States?

Did you enter with or without inspection by U.S. authorities?

Your answer might affect your ability to qualify for certain immigration programs. If you entered with temporary permission – like a business, student, or tourist visa – this visa might enable you to speed up the lawful permanent resident process.

  • If you entered under the Visa Waiver Program, you might be limited from seeking immigration benefits while still in the United States.
  • If you entered without inspection, you might be subject to being deported. On the other hand, you might be eligible to become a lawful permanent resident but only after paying a hefty fine.

3. Why Did You Enter The United States?

The reason why a person enters the United States often leads to specific consequences

Sometimes the reason for seeking admission will help a person obtain a green card. Yet, other times, the reason may destroy an immigrant’s application for benefits.

  • If you entered the country to escape persecution or torture, you might be able to seek immigration benefits under asylum.
  • If you entered to live or work here permanently, but used a temporary visa, you may face problems related to fraud when you apply for permanent residence.
  • If you were tricked or forced into entering the United States, you might be considered to be a victim of trafficking or forced servitude under immigration law.

4. Did You Ever Leave The United States After Your First Entry?

Some immigrants leave the United States after their first entry.

If you fall into this category, then the analysis of your situation can be more complicated. Sometimes leaving and re-entering will undermine your immigration petition, even when you were admitted the first time.

You can expect the government to ask questions such as:

  • How many times did you leave the United States?
  • Why did you leave the United States each time?
  • When did you leave the United States each time?
  • How long did you leave the United States each time?
  • When did you re-enter the United States each time?

Last but not least:

How did you re-enter the United States each time – with government permission, including immigration parole, or without inspection and lawful admission?


Navigating the road to a green card often resembles trying to pass through a confusing maze. And how you started your journey can affect the final outcome.

After all, until an immigrant’s entry, exit, and admission is fully reviewed, it is not possible to fully assess a permanent resident applicant’s chance for success.

The government will ask such questions.  They are not mere technical inquiries.  Rather, they represent an in-depth look at your green card eligibility.

It is in your best interests, therefore, to understand how these issues can make or break your case, prior to filing an application for residency.

Ready to take a serious and honest look at the strengths and weaknesses of your immigration case? Let’s get started with a personalized strategy and planning consultation . . .