Can I obtain permanent residency after illegally re-entering the United States?

In this week's Consulta Migratoria® column I answer a reader's question, spouse of a U.S. citizen who has an illegal re-entry into the country.

Each case is different and the answers vary according to the immigration history of each person. 

Here I provide general answers to your questions. Please consult with an immigration attorney to receive personalized legal advice before starting any procedure.

This is the column:

Last month I was denied an immigrant visa at the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez. The consular officer told me I was ineligible because I left the U.S. and re-entered illegally.

My U.S. citizen husband is petitioning me. We have a minor daughter and a son who is in the army. I had lived in the United States for over 20 years. My daughter is young and needs me. Here in Mexico is not a safe place to have her.

Can I apply for some kind of pardon or permission to enter the United States because my son is in the army? Maria P.

Maria, I am very sorry to hear that your immigrant visa application was denied.

If you re-entered the United States illegally after April 1, 1997, you may be subject to a penalty that does not allow you to return to the country until you have lived abroad for 10 years. You will also need to obtain special authorization from the U.S. government to legally return to the country.

As the mother of a person who is in the military, you can't ask for a permit to enter the United States (parole in place) because you are abroad and illegally re-entered the U.S. in the past.

You should immediately retain a licensed U.S. immigration attorney to evaluate your immigration file and determine your legal options, including whether the consular officer's decision is correct. In the meantime, do not re-enter the U.S. illegally, as the federal government has stated that processá criminally punish persons who illegally enter or re-enter the country.