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How Do I Prove Lawful Entry?


Proof of lawful entry into the United States is necessary for approval of an application to adjust status. For example, if you entered the U.S. on an F-1 student visa, one legal matter that must be shown to file an application for adjustment of status is that you entered the U.S. lawfully.

So, how does a person prove lawful entry?

Under U.S. immigration laws, lawful entry requires an "inspection" and "admission." This occurs at the border and other checkpoints (like customs and visa checkpoints at a U.S. international airport). Generally speaking, an "inspection" occurs when a person presents themselves to a customs or immigration official. Under U.S. immigration law, by presenting yourself, you are applying for admission. As part of the inspection, the person must present required documentation -- such as an approved visa -- and provide whatever else is requested, such as fingerprints, photographs, other biometric identifiers, documentation of status, etc. An "inspection" is legally accomplished even if the border official only conducts a cursory or nominal inspection.

An "admission" into the U.S. occurs when the border official releases the person into the U.S. Usually, this is accompanied by some sort of official stamp or documentation. Thus, the most common method of proving lawful entry is to show copies of I-94 documentation or an official stamp of entry on one's passport.

There are other types of documentation that may be used as proof of admission into the United States, including:

  • A valid-at-the-time-of-entry Employment Authorization Card (Form I-688A) for special agricultural worker applicants
  • A valid-at-the-time-of-entry Temporary Resident Card (Form I-688) for special agricultural workers or legalization applicants granted temporary residence
  • A valid-at-the-time-of-entry Border Crossing Card (Form I-586 or Form DSP-150[31])

When an immigration official grants "admission," the immigration official must have first determined that you were eligible for admission. That is, for example, you possessed a valid visa.

However, there are circumstances where an immigration officer does not make a determination of admissibility but still allows the person to enter. This is another form of lawful entry and is called parole. As described here on this USCIS fact page, a grant of parole is a temporary and discretionary act exercised on a case-by-case basis. Parole, by definition, is not an admission, but it is a lawful entry. Reasons for the granting of parole include urgent humanitarian or significant public benefit reasons. There are three ways of proving inspection and parole:

  • A parole stamp on an advance parole document
  • A parole stamp in a passport
  • An Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94) endorsed with a parole stamp

What About "Wave-Through" Admissions?

Sometimes, a person is lawfully admitted but has none of the proofs described above. This can happen in what is called a "wave-through" admission. These are deemed legally sufficient and lawful entries even if the immigration border official asks no questions and conducts no interview. These are also called Quilantan wave through admissions, named after the legal case that established the rule. In Quilantan, the person entered the U.S. as a passenger in a car. The border inspector asked the driver questions but did not ask the passenger any questions. The inspector then proceeded to "wave" the car through the border checkpoint. Later, it was held that this was a proper inspection and admission of the passenger. Quilantan's entry was deemed lawful.

To prove this type of lawful entry, an applicant must submit credible evidence to support the claim, such as sworn third-party affidavits from those involved and with personal knowledge of the facts and supporting documentation.

Contact Yekrangi & Associates Today

For more information, contact the Orange County Immigration Attorneys at Yekrangi & Associates today. We will fight for you. Yekrangi & Associates works to meet a higher standard. Our first goal is your satisfaction. Contact us at (949) 478-4963 to schedule a consultation or complete our convenient “Get Your Consultation” form here. We are located in Irvine, California.

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