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If you come to the United States without permission or legal status as a child, you may not realize until you are older that you don’t have the same privileges as U.S. citizens. Pablo Balbino was brought into this country by his parents when he was just five years old. As he grew older, he realized what it meant to be undocumented in the U.S. 

The police pulled him over one day after he had graduated high school, and he received a traffic violation. At that time, he was a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient and was scared of losing his legal status. He was newly married and had a baby at home and was terrified of what this could mean for his family’s future. Would he be separated from them?

He made the smart choice to contact STERN Law. He was married to a U.S. citizen, but initially did not qualify to apply for a green card inside of the U.S. We helped him to overcome major hurdles that would have required him to take the risk of leaving his wife and children to apply for residency in Mexico. Through our legal strategy, he stayed together with his family in the U.S. for the entire time until he was granted legal residency! We moved ahead to secure permanent residency for 10 years, and next is citizenship!  

The sky is the limit for Pablo and his family! Rather than living in fear of losing DACA status or being deported back to Mexico, Pablo is relaxed and happy with his life as a permanent resident here in the United States. His future is secure, and his family is safe. They don’t have to worry about being separated. He was able to achieve his career goals as an accountant and, ultimately, his American Dream. 

This story is all-too-familiar for many immigrants around the United States. Many people come here as children and grow up without the proper documentation. Some have gotten DACA protection later on, but many have not. It is an uncertain time to live in the U.S. as a DREAMER, or otherwise undocumented person, it is very hard to live with uncertainty.  

If you find yourself in a similar situation to Pablo, he recommends STERN Law to help you obtain permanent residency. You don’t have to be afraid and uncertain when it comes to your future. STERN Law will guide you, just as we guided Pablo.

 

What is DACA?

People who receive DACA are young people who have grown up in the United States and have little to no memory of the country in which they were born. They came here when they were young, most likely speaking English, and grew up like Americans. 

Under the current immigration laws, they cannot gain legal residency despite living in the U.S. for most of their lives. Many of these “DREAMers,” like Pablo, didn’t realize they were not U.S. citizens until later in life, like when he wanted to get his driver’s license and was unable to. 

DACA enables people raised like Pablo, who meet specific requirements, to receive certain benefits and remain in the country. They have to renew their DACA status now every 1-2 years. They are protected from deportation and are authorized to work in the U.S. 

The requirements to qualify for DACA are: 

  • Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  • Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
  • Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  • Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
  • Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012;
  • Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  • Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

While the general public widely supports DACA in the United States, the Trump Administration has threatened DACA recipients’ future. Many fear the program will be eliminated. Several civil organizations have encouraged DACA recipients to renew their permits as soon as possible. 

Living as a DREAMER right now isn’t easy. DACA is not the same thing as citizenship or permanent residency. If you are concerned about your legal status, it is time to take the next step to secure permanent residency in the United States. Residency is only possible if you have qualifying relatives.

 

Obtaining Permanent Residency 

If you are uncertain about your future, even with DACA benefits like Pablo was, you should take the next steps and obtain your permanent residency. Through certain circumstances, DACA recipients can get permanent residency. It doesn’t need renewal as often, it grants you the right to live and work in the U.S. on a more permanent basis, and you won’t have to worry about losing your DACA status. 

Some of these options are: 

  • Family-based green card categories
  • Marriage to a U.S. citizen
  • Qualifying for asylum

You may be eligible for permanent residency as: 

  • an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen: includes spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents of U.S. citizen petitioners 21 or older
  • a family member of a U.S. citizen fitting into a preference category: includes unmarried sons or daughters over the age of 21, married children of any age, and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizen petitioners 21 or older
  • a family member of a permanent resident: includes spouses and unmarried children of the sponsoring green card holder
  • a member of a special category: can include battered spouse or child (VAWA), a K nonimmigrant, a person born to a foreign diplomat in the United States, a V nonimmigrant, or a widow(er) of a U.S. Citizen

STERN Law Will Help You Secure Your Place In The United States

Regardless of your current situation, please don’t try to obtain your permanent residency without experienced legal counsel. This is an important opportunity for you, and you don’t want to do anything that jeopardizes it. 

If you want to obtain your permanent residency, Pablo recommends contacting STERN Law. We are upfront, honest, and we will guide you every step of the way until your green card is in your hands. You deserve your American Dream, and we will help you achieve it! Don’t wait any longer to secure your status. 

Contact us to take the first steps to move your legal situation forward today.