I recently had a client that qualified for Permanent Residency though a little used process called Registration. If you are looking at form I-485 (https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/files/form/i-485.pdf), in Part 2., it would require you to check box number “G.”. “I have continuously resided in the United States since before January 1, 1972″. I decided to write this blog as very few people (including our interviewing USCIS officer) knew very little about the practical application of this process.
For my client, she had been moved to the USA as a newborn infant (interestingly using a Baptismal Certificate) from abroad in the 1950’s, and only recently discovered she was not a US Citizen. Although she potentially qualified for permanent residency through her spouse or adult children, due to some other issues, we decided it would be cheaper and less of a headache to proceed with Residency as the grounds to Adjust Status.
So here is what you need to know:
You must prove the entry to the U.S. prior to 1972. If you are from Canada, a statement from the applicant explaining the entry is sufficient. All other countries require further proof (flight itinerary, replacement I-94 etc). Once you have proven entry prior to 1972, you then need to prove that the applicant has remained in the USA all of that time with as many documents as you can find. For this case, I used Social Security statements, birth certificates of children, marriage certificates, statements from friends, utility bills, home mortgages, tax returns and school report cards from the 1970’s. Thankfully this client kept a lot of documents so it made my job relatively straight forward.
So.. If you have been in the USA since prior to 1972, you entered lawfully and have remained in the USA during the entire time, this process could be very helpful for you. You save on the typical I-130 or I-140 filing fee, the visa is immediately available and its a relatively painless process. As there is so little information on this process, I would recommend you hiring an attorney familiar with this process.
As a side note: For those groups interested in Immigration Reform, I am surprised they have not lobbied to move the Registration Date up (from 1972 to 1992), allowing a path for Lawful Residence and potentially citizenship for a much wider group of people.