Under the current immigration law, it is very important to stay legal in the United States. Once you come into the US legally, you should try to stay legal. Unless you are legally here, you will not be able to get or extend your driver’s license or state identification card. Unless you have a valid working visa or working permit you will not be able to get your social security number (except for some limited circumstances for international students).
Unless you or your parents applied for an immigrant petition prior to April 30, 2001, unless you are legal in the United States, it will be practically impossible to get a greencard. For persons in illegal status, if you entered the US legally, you may get your greencard through marriage to a US citizen. Persons who have been here for less than 1 year may apply for asylum. It is possible to apply for asylum more than 1 year after you entered the United States but you will have to prove that you are eligible for asylum based on a narrow exception.
If you are in the United States in a B1 or B2 status, you may apply to extend your stay in the United States. You may request an extension of your stay for up to six months by applying with Form I-539 and submitting your reason for needing an extension of your stay together with proof of sufficient finances to pay for your expenses during the requested extension period. As long as the application is received no later than the last day of your I-94, it is considered timely filed and you may stay in the US pending the USCIS decision. You may find the application form and the instructions at the USCIS website at www.USCIS.gov. If you are in the United States in a B1 or B2 status, you may change your status to F1 foreign student as long as your I-94 is not expired. As an F1 foreign student, it will be necessary for you to go to school full time in order to maintain legal status. If you drop below full time status and end up out of status, you may apply to the USCIS for reinstatement of your F1 status if you can prove that it is for reasons beyond your control. In order to be eligible, you must apply within 5 months after you fall out of status.
The bottom line is that although it is not always possible, you should do whatever you can.
For more information contact
Victoria J. Suh, Esq.*
Tsoi & Associates, Lawyers
3580 Wilshire Bl Ste 720 L A, CA 90010
Tel 213-387-2888 *Fax 213-387-2882