They are in the same situation as millions of others and many of those are married to U.S. Citizens and have U.S. Citizen children over age 21 and still they cannot fix their status without leaving the U.S. I will give you the options so that you know what they are and don't lose money talking to attorneys that may promise something with a low chance of success just so that they can charge you. So be careful. They have the following options:
1) Wait for the immigration reform that comes out. If it is approved the way that they are intending, then they may be able to get Residency if they entered the U.S. early enough.
2) Apply for Asylum (they had to have done this within the 1st year of being in the U.S. unless there is a credible excuse or changed country conditions), Withholding of Removal, Convention Against Torture, or Cancellation of Removal. The first three things are if they fear to return to their home country because they believe that they will be specifically targeted due to their race, religion, nationality, social group or political opinion and that they run a high risk of great bodily injury, torture, or death as a result. The last, Cancellation, they would have to prove that they have at least 10 years in the U.S. AND they must also prove that if they are deported, a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident that depends upon them will suffer exceptional and extremely unusual hardship. This hardship must be something more than emotional separation hardship or financial hardship, so it is difficult to get.
3) If they marry a U.S. Citizen (for love, of course), they could file an I-130 here in the U.S. (which will give them no legal status), but once that I-130 is approved, really the only thing they can do is leave the U.S. and apply to come back in at the U.S. Embassy/consulate in their home country as the spouse of a U.S. Citizen. At that point, they will want to deny them because they entered illegally and stayed. So they would have to apply for an I-601 waiver (forgiveness) and to get this waiver they will have to prove that their spouse will suffer extreme hardship if they are not allowed back in to the U.S. These waivers are very difficult to get. The reason they are difficult to get is because the hardship probably will need to be more than just economic hardship or emotional separation hardship. So because they are difficult to get, no one wants to risk leaving the U.S. and getting stuck outside for 10 years if it isn't granted.
You can look at this link to get more information on I-601 waivers. It is from the U.S. Embassy in Syria, but it is a good description and the process should be similar in all U.S. Embassies.
and here is another link:
And here is a link to what extreme hardship is:
And about Obama's new law, the I-601A waiver, it isn't a new law. It is a new procedure. What has changed is that before, a person had to leave the U.S. and spend around 15 months or so while waiting for their appointment at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their home country and then HOPE that they got approved, but the change is that now the same person can apply inside the U.S., get a pre-approval, and then with that pre-approval they can leave the U.S. for just a few days or even a day, present themselves for a scheduled appointment at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, and then get the final approval and come back as long as there are no other reasons of inadmissibility, just having entered the U.S. illegally or having overstayed. Here is an official link:
I am truly sorry for the bad news, but the options are very limited at the moment. Regardless, at least you know the truth and that will keep you out of the hands of unscrupulous attorneys that are looking to take advantage of a desperate situation to charge thousands of dollars for something that has very little chance of producing a positive result.
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