The Secret Immigration Amnesty Today – “Registry”

January 1, 2010

In recent and recurring political discussions about U.S. immigration reform, politicians of many different political persuasions as well as news commentators and pundits have been talking tough against “illegal immigrants.” As the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States continues to swell – eight, ten, or twelve million? – the lingering question of amnesty, the granting of legal status to undocumented immigrants, has emerged as a focus for criticism of new immigration plans. Politicians respond by forswearing any interest in any amnesty plan. No politician wants to appear to encourage “illegal,” undocumented status or to express sympathy with people who break American immigration laws to get into the United States.

Despite the political war of words and vitriolic rhetoric, amnesty has been a reality of U.S. immigration law since 1952 – more than 57 years. It is known as “registry” and allows undocumented immigrants who entered the United States prior to January 1, 1972 to be lawfully admitted to permanent residence if several conditions are met. First, the immigrant must have been living in the United States continuously since the first entry. Second, the immigrant must be “of good moral character.” Finally, the immigrant must not be otherwise inadmissible for reasons such as having a criminal conviction a supporting international terrorism. As in any immigration case, the immigrant must prove continuous residence and good moral character with documentation.

According to USCIS’s own website, Registry is located under the search term ” “Green Card Through Registry”(Click here to follow the link)

Registry is a section of immigration law that enables certain individuals who have been present in the United States since January 1, 1972 the ability to apply for a green card (permanent residence), even if they are currently in the United States unlawfully.

Eligibility Criteria

  • You may be eligible to receive a green card (permanent residence) under the registry provisions if you meet all of the following conditions:
  • You entered the United States prior to January 1, 1972
  • You have resided in the United States continuously since January 1, 1972
  • You are a person of good moral character
  • You are not ineligible for naturalization (citizenship)
  • You are not removable (deportable) under Section 237(a)(4)(B) the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) (see “INA” link to the right)
  • You are not inadmissible under Section 212(a)(3)(E) of the INA or as a criminal, procurer, other immoral person, subversive, violator of the narcotics laws or alien smuggler

Note: An individual applying under the registry provisions is not required to undergo a medical exam.”

The registry law is limited in its usefulness, however, because it has not been updated since 1986. It would be logical for Congress to bring registry up to date by changing the cut-off to January 1, 1995. However, given the current political climate, it’s not clear that this will happen anytime soon. Moreover, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has an enormous backlog of applications for permanent residency from immigrants who have followed typical lawful methods of achieving permanent residency, such as family petitions, employment-based petitions, and special immigrant petitions such as juveniles and ministers. While an amnesty law is on the books, then, immigrants living in the United States without documentation would be ill-advised to rely on it as a means of achieving permanent residency and eventually citizenship.

In closing, we wish you Happy Holidays. Every year, we send to every one of you, our friends and colleagues alike, the following sincere greeting for happiness, peace and prosperity in the English, Spanish and German languages:

Dear Friends, that Christmas with its joy and nostalgia be an incentive to persist in the hope of a world living in peace, where children can laugh and dance, be educated and grow up free from the horrors of war and the limitations of poverty. May love, health and prosperity accompany you into the New Year.

Queridos amigos, que la Navidad con su alegría y su nostalgia sea un aliciente para persistir en la esperanza de un mundo en paz, donde los niños puedan reír y danzar, educarse y crecer libres de los horrores de la guerra y las limitaciones de la pobreza. Que el amor, la salud y la prosperidad los acompañen en este nuevo año.

Meine lieben Freunde, möge Weihnachten mit Freude und Nostalgie ein Anlass dazu sein, zu hoffen, dass die Welt in Frieden lebt, wo Kinder lachen und tanzen können, mit guter Schulausbildung aufwachsen können, und frei von Ängsten wegen Kriegen und Armut sein können. Wir wünschen Ihnen ein gutes neues Jahr mit Liebe, Gesundheit und Wohlergehen.

We welcome your opinions and comments. For your comments or more information, please forward them to Immigration Attorney Steven Roby, via email sbr[at]robylaw.com, call him at 248-554-8500, or write to him at: Steven B. Roby, Roby Law Associates, PLLC, 32022 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak, Michigan 48302.

Steven B. Roby, Attorney at Law
Erin Camargo, Paralegal