I overstayed my B1/B2 visitor visa. How can I return to the United States to attend important business conferences and seminars?

Question:

Several years ago I entered the United States on a B1/B2 visa.  At that time, my country was engaged in political upheaval and was very unstable; it was not safe to return. As a result, I remained in the United States and overstayed my visa for 11 years. After several attempts to obtain legal status in the United States, I departed and immigrated to Canada. I have lived in Canada since leaving the United States. Over the years I have applied for several B1/B2 visitor visas to enter the United States for business reasons, but my applications were denied. 

How can I return to the United States to attend important business conferences and seminars?

Answer:

Thank you for your question. Based on the information you provided above, it appears that you entered the United States and overstayed your B1/B2 visa. As such, once you overstayed your visa, you began to accumulate “unlawful presence.” This may not be the only source of your current immigration issues, but it is likely a predominate factor. Before attempting to apply for admission into the United States again, you must first address your unlawful presence issue.

Without the benefit of a complete consultation I am unable to provide concrete advice. However, below is a brief analysis that you may find helpful.

INA § 212(d)(3)(A) Waiver

Based on your likely inadmissibility for unlawful presence, you will need to apply for a 212(d)(3) waiver to overcome your unlawful presence. Based on the amount of time you were unlawfully present in the United States, you are subject to the 10-year bar. Pursuant to INA § 212(a)(9)(B)(II),   

Any alien (other than an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence) who: (II) has been unlawfully present in the United States for one year or more, and who again seeks admission within 10 years of the date of such alien's departure or removal from the United States is inadmissible.

Thus, the 10-year bar is applicable to individuals who have been unlawfully present in the United States for a period of one year or more and who seeks admission within 10 years of his or her departure.

I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as Nonimmigrant Waiver [Pursuant to Section 212(d)(3)(A)(i) of the INA]

You stated that you now live in Canada. I am assuming that you immigrated properly to Canada and reside there as a permanent resident of Canada. If this is true, you may want to consider applying for Canadian citizenship. Due to the strong relationship between the United States and Canada, Canadian citizens derive certain immigration benefits that citizens of other countries do not. Our shared border and trade relationship has resulted in expedited methods of moving people and products between countries. Thus, after becoming a Canadian citizen, you may apply for an I-192 waiver pursuant to INA § 212(d)(3)(A)(ii). Unlike the traditional consulate process, the Form I-192 is submitted directly to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and then forwarded to the Admissibility Review Office (ARO) for adjudication.

Parole

If the circumstances warrant, you may consider applying for parole at our local Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to enter the United States. Parole is commonly used to allow otherwise inadmissible individuals to enter the country for specific reasons, for a limited period of time, and usually involves a degree of urgency. The average processing time for most waivers submitted to the ARO is six months. Therefore, foreign nationals with waivers currently pending beyond the normal processing time, and who have an urgent need to enter the United States, may consider applying for parole. It should be noted that parole is discretionary and not a way to subvert the visa waiver process. Any applicant considering parole should be prepared to show a strong need for this remedy, as the evidentiary requirements are high.  

To better assist you, I strongly suggest that you call our office to set up a consultation. Thank you for your question.