Q: I’m here illegally, having sneaked into the United States 26 years ago. I have two U.S.-citizen children ages 32 and 30. Can my children help me become a U.S. citizen?
Name withheld, by email
A: Unlikely, unless you are willing to wait 10 years abroad. The “anchor baby” story that just having U.S.-citizen children here provides a path to U.S. citizenship is a lie.
Because you entered without inspection by a U.S. officer, you must return home for your immigrant visa interview. Once you leave the United States, you face a 10-year bar to returning. That’s true despite your qualifying for a green card in the “immediate relative of a U.S. citizen” category. The law provides a waiver of the 10-year “unlawful presence” bar to a green card, but only if you have a spouse or parent who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.