Immigration Lawyer Reminds Why Illegal Aliens Should Be Required to Leave and Apply to Enter Legally

An immigration lawyer’s published advice for aliens seeking a “green card” for legal residence in the United States serves as an important lesson about immigration reform. Allen Wernick writes in the NY Daily News, “Most immigrant visa applicants want to interview here. That’s because if the USCIS denies your adjustment of status application, you can renew that application in immigration court.” The appeal system in the U.S. allows applicants for immigration benefits a virtually endless number of bites of the apple up to and including appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. That fact helps to explain why the immigration court has a long backlog and federal court dockets are heavily impacted with immigration cases.

The corollary of Wernick’s comment is that if you apply for an immigrant visa outside of the U.S,. and you are found ineligible because of a criminal record or a finding that you will not be able to support yourself in the U.S. without public assistance, or some other reason, you remain outside of the U.S. and have no formal appeal process.

This is an important distinction to keep in mind when considering amnesty legislation. If persons who have become illegal aliens by sneaking into the country or ignoring the limit on a legal entry are required to leave the country and apply to come back legally, the overseas review process will keep ineligible aliens from returning. But if they are not required to leave first, they will have a perpetual appeal process available to them to continue their illegal stay in the U.S. including with permission to work.

The Senate’s immigration reform bill (S.744) does not include any requirement to leave the country.

About Author


Jack, who joined FAIR’s National Board of Advisors in 2017, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).


  1. avatar

    well, the main reason of the crime is weak administration of the Government. you don’t ignore to say it’s small percentage of the illegal population. The Question is Why? They are also Citizen of America but why they chose to illegal ways. we must know the main reason to solve it.

  2. avatar

    No one who broke into this country should ever have the opportunity to apply for citizenship. If they broke the law the first time, they are not going to change their MO. I’m still waiting for someone with courage to stand up and say, “illegals must leave and all fake birthright “citizenship” papers passed out wlll be rescinded. Anyone here iwithout permission, has thirty days to leave the same way they got here.” This goes for visa overstayers too. They are just as illegal as the ones who sneaked in. I want my country back!

  3. avatar

    Accepting Amnesty is for the Person With No Courage to Stick Up for Americans

    But Americans aren’t considerred near as important as IAs to the open border pundits.

  4. avatar
    Concerned Citizen on

    Great points by Jack Martin. Yes, anyone here illegally should be required to leave the country and apply for legal entry. As I have said for years now, there could be a place for new kinds of work visas as long as they don’t adversely impact the unemployment rate among native-born workers. We need a transparent labor market with congressional oversight. Look at the infrastructure, regulation and oversight around the stock market — an example of 20th century reforms. Why not create significant labor market reform in the 21st century?

    The Obama Administration and the Democrats were eager to create new markets for health insurance in the form of public exchanges, but they are silent on the need for transparent labor markets. Where’s the leadership? I’m also left to wonder why advocates for mass immigration don’t first lobby for an end to discrimination against various, embattled classes of workers (native-born workers, who are often depicted as less capable than foreign-born, African-Americans and Latinos, who often bear the brunt of immigration, and white male workers, who aren’t considered a protected class). If the federal government is looking out for the public good, then wouldn’t Washington want to make sure that immigration does not harm various classes of American citizens before you open the doors to more immigration?

    The corporate immigration lobby and their leftists allies need to get beyond the sneaky, illegal model and put forth ideas that truly bring immigration policy into the clear light of day. Only then will illegal immigrants truly get out of the shadows.

  5. avatar
    john Declaires on

    Well…………………this only applies to a very small percentage of the illegal population no differently than our criminals…a small percentage of the 330 millions……………………………

  6. avatar

    New movie coming out. It’s called Dumb and Dumber and Beyond Dumb. It’s about all the people who think an amnesty for illegals, most who have less than a high school education, is going to be some asset for this country and those people and their large families won’t be a long term drain on the system.

    Never mind that California has a de facto amnesty and has millions of illegals and their families on welfare. But the latest talking point is that California has a budget surplus. Yeah, but they only did that by, yet again, raising taxes last year. That well is going to run dry very soon.