Do undocumented immigrants with disabled children have a better chance of obtaining legal status?

This week in my column in and other impreMedia online publications, I answer questions from readers. Each case is different and the answers vary depending on each person's immigration history. Here I provide general answers to your questions. Please consult with an immigration attorney to receive personalized legal advice before beginning any process.

I entered the United States illegally in 2004 and I have an 8 year old child with autism who was born in the country. I have heard that in some cases you can apply for papers for having a disabled child because they give us more opportunity. I would like to know if my case could be eligible for me to apply to become a resident or citizen of the United States. --fina84

Generally, the U.S. government does not grant permanent residency or U.S. citizenship to people who are in the country illegally simply because the person has a disabled child. This is a myth perpetuated by unscrupulous people who cheat immigrants out of their savings.

Fina, in your question you do not give me enough information to be able to give you a better answer. Each case is different and it all depends on many factors and circumstances that may yield different results.

For example, there is an immigration benefit called cancellation of removal. This benefit can only be applied for in an immigration court if an undocumented person is in deportation proceedings. To qualify, the immigrant must show that he or she has lived at least 10 years in the United States, has been a person of good moral character, has not been convicted of certain serious crimes, and the removal would result in "exceptional and extremely unusual hardship" to his or her spouse, parent or unmarried child under the age of 21, who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, among other things.

There is also relief for people who have been assaulted or subjected to extreme cruelty by a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or parent, or who have a child who has been subjected to this kind of abuse. But there are different requirements for victims of this type of assault.

Fina, consult with an immigration attorney as soon as possible to determine your immigration options.

I am married to a U.S. citizen and we have three children. In 1998 I was given an order of deportation and I did not leave. Can I apply for a provisional pardon under the punishment law? - Carlos L.

Carlos, generally, people with deportation orders are not eligible to apply for a provisional waiver of the punishment law. But there are some exceptions. A spouse, husband, or unmarried child under the age of 21 of a U.S. citizen may apply for a provisional pardon if the deportation proceedings are reopened and then administratively closed to give the immigrant an opportunity to apply for a provisional pardon. In addition, the court case must not have been postponed to another date by the time the Form I-601A is filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The individual must also meet all requirements for a provisional waiver of the penalty law.