DACA to Green Card: Pathways to Permanent Residency

Explore the possibilities of transitioning from DACA to a Green Card with the professional guidance of Manji Law, P.C. This comprehensive guide also discusses marriage and employment-based pathways.

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Atlanta Immigration Attorney Jameel Manji

Author: Jameel Manji, Founder, Manji Law, P.C.

Mr. Manji founded Manji Law in 2016 to follow his passion of helping people navigate the complicated immigration system. Mr. Manji graduated from Georgia State University College of Law and received Master of Taxation from the Georgia State’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business. Published on: June 19, 2024.

Manji Law is your complete immigration solution. If you are seeking assistance with the Atlanta Immigration Court, please give us a call. Manji Law can provide valuable insight, assistance, and a guiding hand to help you achieve your goals.

Obtaining Lawful Permanent Resident Status as a DACA Recipient

Imagine being brought to a new country as a child, growing up and adapting to a new culture, and then facing the uncertainty of your legal immigration status as an adult. This is the reality for many individuals under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. They live with the constant hope of securing a more permanent solution. Transitioning from DACA to a green card offers many immigrants a pathway to stability and peace of mind.

For those in this situation, one of the most viable routes is through marriage to a United States (U.S.) citizen. Marriage provides an opportunity to apply for a green card, but it comes with its own set of challenges and requirements. Understanding these steps is crucial if you wish to navigate this process successfully and avoid potential pitfalls. Working with experienced DACA attorneys in Atlanta can be immensely beneficial.

Our team at Manji Law, P.C. can guide you through the legal process and help with the documentation needed for your green card application. As we explore this topic further, we will examine each step in detail to help you make informed decisions about your future.

Understanding DACA and Its Limitations

DACA provides temporary protection from deportation to eligible undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. These recipients can receive work permits, a social security number, and state-issued identification, including a driver’s license.

To qualify, applicants must meet several criteria including:

  • Arrival in the U.S. before turning sixteen.
  • Must have lived in the country continuously since June 15, 2007.
  • Must be under thirty-one years old as of June 15, 2012.
  • Must have no significant criminal record.
  • Do not have lawful status as of June 15, 2012.

Eligible individuals can renew their deferral status every two years. Despite these benefits, DACA has several significant limitations. Most notably, it doesn’t provide a direct pathway to U.S. citizenship or even a green card. DACA recipients live with uncertainty, as their status can be revoked if the policy changes. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) emphasizes that DACA’s benefits are temporary and subject to change based on legislative and judicial actions.

Another limitation includes travel restrictions. DACA recipients must apply for an advance parole document to travel outside the U.S. and re-enter lawfully. This travel permission is not always guaranteed, adding another layer of uncertainty. In addition, although DACA allows recipients to enjoy benefits such as an employment authorization permit, it doesn’t grant lawful status like a valid visa or permanent residency. This limitation also means DACA recipients face hurdles when it comes to certain rights and benefits that lawful residents enjoy.

Pathways to a Green Card Through Marriage

Securing a green card through marriage may be one of the routes for DACA recipients to obtain lawful permanent residence. If the marriage is genuine and all legal requirements are met, this path can lead to permanent residency. There are several critical steps involved, and it is essential to understand each one. The marriage must be legally recognized and should be valid under the laws of the place where it occurred.

Marriages for immigration benefits can lead to severe consequences, including denial of a green card and deportation. Applicants often need a medical examination and must attend an interview with an immigration officer. For those who entered the U.S. lawfully, filing Form I-485 (Application to Adjust Status) without leaving might be possible. However, this adjustment can be complicated for individuals who entered without inspection.

At Manji Law, P.C., our team provides reliable immigration help in Atlanta, addressing family immigration, removal defense, and other immigration needs. We can tailor advice to your unique situation and guide you through the immigration process.

Employment-Based Visas as an Alternative Path

Navigating from DACA to a Green Card can be complex. While many dreamers wait for a legislative solution, employment-based visas such as H-1B offer a viable alternative path. These visas are for specialty occupations that typically require a bachelor’s degree.

After obtaining an H-1B visa, one can apply for a green card through an employment-based immigrant visa. This involves a multi-step process including:

  1. Obtaining a job offer from a U.S. employer.
  2. The employer files a labor certification with the Department of Labor, proving there are no qualified U.S. workers for the position.
  3. The employer files Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, with the USCIS.

The green card process for DACA recipients may face unique challenges. It’s crucial to understand eligibility criteria and document requirements thoroughly. For those in the Atlanta area, consulting with a knowledgeable immigration attorney can significantly ease the process.

Navigating Legal Challenges and Considerations

People with DACA status may face several legal challenges when applying for a green card. Staying in the U.S. without lawful immigration status can lead to unlawful presence, complicating matters during your application. For many, this means a waiver may be needed to adjust their status. The process to get a waiver can be long and demanding. We can assist with this process, ensuring all documentation is accurate and complete. 

Certain crimes or significant misdemeanors like domestic violence or DUI can disqualify applicants. Therefore, a careful legal assessment is vital to understand individual eligibility. Working closely with skilled professionals, like our team of DACA attorneys, can significantly influence your application’s success. We offer personalized guidance to navigate the complex legal landscape.

The fate of DACA remains uncertain. Policies around DACA are ever-evolving, and these may impact the plans of many immigrants. Understanding the newest rules and their implications is essential. By navigating these challenges wisely, the path to a green card can become clearer and more attainable.

Contact Manji Law, P.C. Today for Immigration Assistance

Our dedicated team at Manji Law, P.C. is ready to help with your immigration needs. We know the journey from DACA recipient to green card holder can be complex. That’s where we come in. If you are exploring your options for a green card, it’s crucial to understand all possible pathways. Our attorneys are familiar with immigration cases, including those involving asylum or refugee programs.

Why Choose Us?

  1. Expertise: We have extensive knowledge and experience in immigration law.
  2. Personalized Service: Each case is unique, and we adopt a personalized approach when dealing with immigration issues.
  3. Successful Track Record: We have helped several clients achieve their immigration goals.

Contact us to schedule a consultation to discuss the specifics of your case. Whether you’re looking to obtain a green card through marriage or other means, our attorneys will guide you through each step of the process. Our office is dedicated to providing compassionate and comprehensive legal support. We aim to make the immigration process as smooth as possible for you and your loved ones.

Reach out to us today to take the first step toward achieving your American dream.