Entered/Entry Without Inspection, means entering the United States without being inspected by an immigration official. Most commonly this means crossing the Mexican or Canadian border without having any contact with an immigration official. A foreign national who enters the U.S. through EWI generally cannot apply for legal status from within the United States (with the exception of asylum applicants, individuals with applications for adjustment grandfathered in under 245i, and abused spouses under VAWA (“Violence Against Women Act”)). Other individuals may be eligible for a waiver, but they are required to file this waiver while abroad.
Immigration to the United States is a multi-step process. In most cases, USCIS must first approve an immigrant petition that has been filed for you (usually by an employer or relative). This includes cases based on marriage to a U.S. citizen. Then, you need to have an immigrant visa number made available to you, even if you are already in the United States. Subsequently, your local U.S. consulate must approve your waiver, which will waive your grounds of inadmissibility. After that, once you are already in the United States, you may apply to adjust to permanent resident status (to become a “Green Card” holder).
Cases that involve people who entered without inspection are very complex. Please consult with an experienced immigration attorney to evaluate your case and eligibility. Our team of immigration lawyers will properly advise you on your immigration options even if you are in immigration detention.