Applying For Green Card with Unknown Unlawful Presence

Applying For Green Card with Unknown Unlawful Presence

  • Applicant: Mrs. Zhou
  • Case type: Green Card Application, I-94
  • Time: September 2017 – June 2018
  • Challenges:
    • Client’s I-94 had unknowingly expired over a half a year beforehand
    • Mrs. Zhou could not risk being forced to leave the country without re-admittance; her family was based in the US
    • Waiting periods for I-485 trials can be up to 20 months
    • Many attorneys told her the chances of renewal were slim



    Having been in the US long enough to have established her friends and family here, Mrs. Zhou decided it was time to apply for her green card. In the beginning of the application process, however, she quickly realized something very disheartening: it would be impossible for her to receive approval.

    Unbeknownst to her, the I-94 that granted her temporary residence in the country had expired more than a half a year ago– which meant her presence in the U.S. had been unlawful for quite some time. If USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) were to take action against her, she would not be allowed back into the country for another 3 years.

    Considering Mrs. Zhou’s family has been firmly based in the U.S. for years now, this issue became a matter of the utmost urgency. Her getting expelled from the country would certainly compromise the integrity of her perfectly happy family and place her in a country she has not called home in a long time. In her desperate search for help, she met with several H-1B lawyers, all of whom regretted to inform her that her chances of renewal for her I-94 were slim from a legal standpoint. The situation was becoming even more hopeless for Mrs. Zhou. Eventually, she found us at Tsang & Associates– and was relieved to find that hoping against hopelessness did eventually pay off for her.



    Mrs. Zhou’s circumstances made for an incredibly challenging case, but we found that addressing the context of her overstay was a succinct way to show why she should not be held accountable. Our client relayed to us how she had lost contact with her former immigration lawyer, who had been assisting her with the legal components of her relocation to the US. It was his duty to inform her of any such deadlines and explain to her the renewal options, and his absence left Mrs. Zhou without any sort of legal counsel or knowledge on the matter. We drafted a statement explaining that our client was genuinely unaware of the expiration rules regarding her I-94 and that she is now doing all she can to atone for the misunderstanding. After all, we noted: Mrs. Zhou is the loving mother of a 9-year-old girl, and would never do anything to jeopardize her life together with her child. We requested a retroactive extension to Mrs. Zhou’s I-94 in hopes that it would allow us to proceed with the process of obtaining a green card for her.

    Although waiting periods for these types of trials could last much longer than a year, our comprehensive argument, combined with our persistence in following up, got the case moving along smoothly in a matter of a few months.



    Against all odds, two weeks after we presented our case, Mrs. Zhou’s I-94 extension was approved. She no longer had to worry about legal repercussions regarding her residence in the U.S. — which means we were also able to help her obtain a green card without any further setbacks. Considering how absolutely bleak her chances of staying in the country looked before she came to us, she was particularly thrilled to be able to calm down and cherish more time with her whole family.

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