The USCIS LAWS section provides information on laws, regulations and interpretations controlling immigration and the work of the immigration-related components of the Department of Homeland Security.
The LAWS section includes several legal resources linked on the left of this page. These links include information on:
- Published USCIS regulations in Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations (8 CFR)
- Statutes governing immigration law in the Immigration Nationality Act
- USCIS Federal Register Publications, including notices, proposed, interim and final rules
- Administrative Decisions from the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office
- Handbooks and guides used by immigration officers in performing their mission
KEY SECTIONS FOR UNDOCUMENTED OR OUT OF STATUS IMMIGRANTS
An undocumented or out of status immigrant who wishes to remain in the U.S. and adjust status to Legal Permanent Resident needs to pay close attention to the specific Sections of the Act that deal with how long you stay in the U.S. (“Unlawful Presence”) and whether you leave and/or reenter the U.S. without inspection after staying here more than 6 months.
Leaving the U.S. after extended periods of stay undocumented can cause you to be stopped from coming back into the U.S. for 3 years or 10 years. If you leave the U.S. and then come back in without documentation and inspection at the border, you could be stopped from ever coming back into the U.S. and becoming a Legal Permanent Resident. Very limited waivers are available so It is important to seek qualified legal help before making decisions about your stay and exit / entries into the U.S.
Unlawful Presence for Purposes of Sections 212(a)(9)(B)(i) and 212(a)(9)(C)(i)(I) of the Act
I. The Three and Ten Year Bars
→ Section 212(a)(9)(B)(i)(I) makes inadmissible any alien who “was unlawfully present in the United States for a period of more than 180 days but less than 1 year . . . [who] again seeks admission within 3 years of the date of such alien’s departure or removal.” Likewise, section 212(a)(9)(B)(i)(II) makes inadmissible any alien who “has been unlawfully present in the United States for one year or more, and who again seeks admission within 10 years of the date of such alien’s removal or departure.”
A. The Three Year Bar
→ For the three year bar to apply, the individual must have accumulated at least 180 days, but less than one year, of ULP, and then voluntarily departed the U.S. prior to the commencement of removal proceedings. There is no requirement for a formal grant of voluntary departure.
→ For the three year bar to apply, the individual must have departed prior to the filing of an NTA with the Immigration Court. An individual who voluntarily depart after the NTA was filed with the court is not subject to the three year bar (but may become subject to the ten year barif she fails to leave before she accumulates more than one year of ULP)1.
B. The Ten Year Bar
→ For the ten year bar to apply, the individual must have accumulated more than one year of ULP, and then either voluntarily departed the U.S. or been removed from the U.S.
→ Unlike the three year bar, the ten year bar applies even if the individual leaves after the commencement of removal proceedings.
II. The Permanent Bar
→ Under INA § 212(a)(9)(C)(i)(I), an individual is who has been ULP in the U.S. for an aggregate period of more than one year and who enters, or attempts to enter, the U.S. without being admitted is permanently inadmissible.
An individual cannot violate the provision unless she departs the U.S. and then returns or attempts to return without being admitted.