How To Become A Legal US Resident In 10 Years

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In this interview, Yakov Spektor shares some insights and explains the possibility of becoming a legal resident in the United States in just ten years. He shares the different ways to go about this process and what you need to do to make it happen.

Many misconceptions cloud the understanding of U.S. immigration law, with the so-called “Ten-Year Rule” being a prime example. We turned to an expert in the field to shed light on this complex topic and debunk its myths. We sat down with Yakov Spektor, a respected Immigration Attorney, to better understand what the “Ten-Year Rule” really means. This information can help you or your loved ones better understand how to get legal status in the United States and the options that are available to you.

Understanding the Ten-Year Rule Myth

When it comes to U.S. immigration law, misconceptions abound. One such misunderstanding involves the so-called “Ten-Year Rule.” The Ten-Year Rule, also known as the “Cancellation of Removal,” is a defense against deportation that applies to some undocumented immigrants facing removal proceedings. A very simplified definition of the rule is as follows: if an undocumented immigrant in removal (deportation) proceedings can successfully demonstrate that he or she have resided in the U.S. continuously for at least ten years, and if his removal would cause “extreme hardship” to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who is a spouse, parent, or child or that undocumented immigrant, he may be granted a cancellation of removal and legal permanent residency.

However, the myth that has taken root in many circles is that living in the U.S. for ten years automatically grants an individual legal status or a defense against deportation. Or that someone who might qualify for Cancellation of Removal can simply apply for a green card on this basis. This misconception can lead many immigrants to rely on the simple passage of time as their primary strategy for attaining legal status and then pay various immigration notarios or scammers to file improper paperwork for them which is a flawed and risky approach.

Renowned Immigration Attorney Yakov Spektor clarifies that the Ten-Year Rule isn’t an automatic ticket to legal status, nor is it possible to apply for legal status, unless someone is already in removal (deportation) proceedings Cancellation of Removal is a specific lawful provision that applies under certain conditions and requires meeting stringent criteria. According to Yakov Spektor, being present in the U.S. for ten years does not guarantee immunity from deportation or an automatic change in legal status.

The Reality of Immigration Manipulation

Misinformation in immigration law can be more than just confusing—it can be downright destructive. Unscrupulous individuals and groups often take advantage of immigrants’ limited understanding of complex immigration laws to exploit them. This manipulation, fuelled by misinformation, can take many forms.

For instance, consider the scenario where “immigration notarios” or people, who might have some basic understanding of immigration forms or notaries, but who are definitely not immigration lawyers, misrepresent the services they can legally provide. In many Latin American countries, notarios are high-ranking legal professionals akin to attorneys. In the United States, however, they are not authorized to provide legal advice on immigration. Yet, some such notarios prey on immigrants, promising to help them navigate the system and achieve legal status while charging exorbitant fees for non-existent or sub-par services.

In another case, consider the prevalence of online scams. It’s increasingly common to see false advertisements or phishing emails promising quick and easy immigration approvals, green cards, or work permits. These scams ask for personal information or payment, leading immigrants to identity theft or financial loss.

And, of course, misunderstanding the Ten-Year Rule can be another type of manipulation, with bad actors promoting it as an easy path to legal status, leading immigrants to make ill-informed decisions that can have serious legal consequences.

The True Ten-Year Rule

The actual Ten-Year Rule, or the Cancellation of Removal provision, under U.S. immigration laws, as explained by Immigration Attorney Yakov Spektor, has very particular criteria.

Rather than being an automatic ticket to legal status, as the myth suggests, here are the actual conditions that need to be met:

  • Removal Proceedings: This rule applies to individuals already in removal proceedings before an Immigration Court. They need to have been apprehended by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and must be facing deportation. It’s important to note that being in removal proceedings means that the U.S. government is trying to deport you and if an immigration judge rules against you, he will issue a deportation order.
  • Ten-Year Continuous Residence: For the Ten-Year Rule to apply, an individual must have lived in the U.S. continuously for at least ten years. This doesn’t mean they can never leave the U.S., but extended trips abroad can disrupt this continuous residence. The specifics of what constitutes a disruption can vary, so it’s essential to consult with a legal professional to see if you met these requirements.
  • Good Moral Character: A good moral character is a somewhat subjective criterion and can be influenced by various factors. Generally, it means the individual must not have been convicted of certain crimes or infringed on specific laws. This includes severe offenses and a pattern of minor violations that indicate a disregard for the law.
  • Extreme Hardship: Proving “extreme hardship” to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who is a spouse, parent, or child is perhaps the most challenging part of this rule. The hardship must be more than a family’s typical hardship due to a member’s deportation. This usually requires substantial documentation and can involve criteria such as family ties in the U.S., health conditions, economic factors, and conditions in the country of return.

Now, let’s consider a few case scenarios where this rule might apply:

  • Health Issues: If an immigrant’s U.S. citizen child has a severe medical condition that cannot be adequately treated in the immigrant’s home country, a case can be made for extreme hardship.
  • Economic Hardship: If an immigrant is the primary financial provider for U.S. citizen family members, and their removal would cause the family significant economic hardship, this could qualify as extreme hardship.
  • Educational Disruption: If the deportation of an immigrant would cause significant interruption to the education of a U.S. citizen child or spouse, this could be seen as extreme hardship.
  • Political and Social Conditions: If returning to the home country would expose the immigrant or their U.S. citizen dependents to danger due to ongoing conflict, violence, or societal instability, it could be argued that the removal would result in extreme hardship.

Remember, just because your U.S. citizen relative may be subject to some or all of these hardships if you are ordered removed, does not mean that an immigration judge will grant Cancellation of Removal in your case. Each case is evaluated separately, and the outcome highly depends on the evidence provided. However, these scenarios illustrate how the Ten-Year Rule works in practice, demonstrating its complexity and the precision required to invoke it successfully.

The Risk of Misconstrued Legal Attempts

Misunderstanding immigration rules and manipulating the system based on these misconceptions can be a risky gambit with severe consequences.

It’s essential to understand the potential dangers and repercussions of such attempts:

  • Unlawful Presence: The most immediate risk is accruing unlawful presence. If an individual remains in the U.S. beyond the period authorized by their visa, they are accruing unlawful presence. Overstaying for some time can lead to a 3- or 10-year bar from re-entering the U.S. once they leave.
  • Deportation: If an individual in removal proceedings is not eligible for Cancellation of Removal or an immigration judge rules that he or she didn’t meet the stringent requirements of the Ten-Year Rule, he may face potential deportation.
  • Limited Relief Options: If an individual falsely assumes they can use the Ten-Year Rule as a defense, he or she may forgo other legal steps necessary to maintain or adjust their status and ignore potential relief options.
  • Risk of Criminal Charges: In extreme cases, providing false information to immigration officials or on immigration documents can be considered a crime, leading to potential criminal charges and making it even more challenging to obtain lawful status.
  • Damage to Future Immigration Applications: Unsuccessful attempts to manipulate the system, especially those involving dishonesty, can harm the individual’s credibility and possibly affect the outcome of future immigration applications.
  • Impact on Families: The stress and uncertainty of a loved one facing removal (deportation) proceedings can take a tremendous toll on families emotionally and financially.
  • Financial Loss: Unsuccessful attempts to navigate the immigration system often involve considerable financial expense. These costs can come from legal fees, court fees, and money lost to scams or fraudulent services.
  • Social and Emotional Distress: Living with the constant fear of deportation can lead to significant social and emotional distress, impacting an individual’s mental health and overall quality of life.
  • Loss of Employment: If an individual is caught by ICE, they could be detained, leading to the loss of employment. Additionally, an employer who discovers that an employee is in the U.S. unlawfully may be legally obliged to terminate their employment.
  • Disconnection from Home Country: Over ten years, ties to the home country may weaken. If deported, readjusting to life in the home country can be extremely difficult, especially if an individual has to leave their U.S.-based family behind.

Seeking Professional Legal Advice

Navigating the intricate field of U.S. immigration law can feel akin to walking through a labyrinth. Misunderstandings and misconceptions, such as those surrounding the Ten-Year Rule, can lead to poor decisions with severe repercussions. This is why obtaining professional legal advice is crucial when dealing with immigration issues.

Qualified immigration attorneys have dedicated their careers to understanding these complex laws and regulations. They stay abreast of any changes or revisions in the law and know how to apply this knowledge to an individual’s case. An experienced attorney can help an immigrant understand their options, rights, and the potential consequences of different choices.

Yakov Spektor, with his extensive experience in immigration law, emphasizes the significance of consulting with a professional. According to Yakov Spektor, anyone who faces immigration concerns — whether it’s applying for a visa, seeking to change or adjust status, or facing removal proceedings — should consult with a qualified immigration attorney. He strongly advises against relying solely on hearsay, myths, or dubious online resources when making decisions that could impact one’s immigration status or future in the U.S. Read the information provided in this article – but then schedule a consultation with an experienced and trusted immigration lawyer. Just one consultation will help you understand your options and you will know what to do.

Navigating U.S. Immigration Laws

Our journey through the nuances of U.S. immigration laws, particularly the misconceptions about the Ten-Year Rule and the reality of immigration manipulation, highlights a crucial truth: U.S. immigration laws are complex. Misunderstandings and misinformation can lead to poor choices with far-reaching consequences, including financial loss, legal trouble, deportation, and emotional distress.

We’ve seen how the Ten-Year Rule is not an automatic ticket to legal status but has stringent requirements and only applies in certain circumstances. Furthermore, we’ve discussed the dangers of attempting to manipulate the immigration system based on misunderstood rules, which can lead to severe repercussions.

In light of this, the importance of seeking professional legal advice when dealing with immigration issues cannot be overstated. Qualified professionals are equipped with the knowledge and experience to guide individuals through the labyrinth of U.S. immigration laws and procedures.

For a first-hand account and comprehensive understanding of these issues, please watch our educational videos and interviews with Yakov Spektor on the YouTube channel of the Law Offices of Spektor, Spektor & Berman. The insights and explanations that the immigration attorneys from the Law Offices of Spektor, Spektor & Berman share in these videos, serve as an invaluable resource for anyone navigating the U.S. immigration system.

If you have any questions about Immigration Laws, call us at 646-859-0205 to schedule a consultation. You can also email us at: or write to us via our Contact Page.

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DISCLAIMER: This information is for reference only and might vary depending on your situation. Please always consult your lawyer for legal matters.