Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”)
A DACA application is not a petition for immigration status, but rather a request that the Department of Homeland Security use its discretion to defer removal (deportation) action for a period of time. Foreign nationals granted DACA are also eligible for work and travel permits. DACA applicants must show that they:
- Entered the US before their 16th birthday
- Have maintained continuous physical presence in the US from June 15, 2007 to the present
- Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
- Are currently in school, have graduated from high school or obtained a GED certificate, or are honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the US.
- Have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or 3 or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
Just as the title suggests, “Special Immigrant Juvenile Status” is an immigration status available to certain juveniles. The applicant must bring a case in state court related to her care and/or protection. Typically, in Massachusetts she or an interested adult will bring a guardianship or custody petition. The family or juvenile court judge adjudicates the guardianship or custody petition, and additionally makes 3 special findings:
- The applicant is dependent upon the state court for her care and protection or has been placed under the custody of an individual or entity appointed by a State or juvenile court
- Reunification with one or both parents is not possible because the applicant was abused, abandoned, or neglected by one or both of her parents; and
- It is not in her best interest to be returned to her home country.
The applicant can then take those findings to USCIS and along with a Self-Petition for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. Once their Self-Petition is approved, and an immigrant visa is available, they can use that as a basis to apply for permanent residency. Immigration law allows USCIS to pardon many immigration law violations for self-petitioners so that they can receive permanent residency.
Temporary Protected Status
When an on-going armed conflict or natural disaster strikes a country, and the Department of Homeland Security determines that conditions prevent nationals from returning to that country, it may designate that country for Temporary Protected Status. Temporary Protected Status (better known as TPS) is a form of immigration status which temporarily protects nationals from a designated country from removal. To be eligible for TPS, you must demonstrate:
- That you are a national of a country designated for TPS
- Have filed during the open initial registration period, or you meet the requirements for late initial filing
- Have been continuously present in the US since the effective date of the designation of your country
- Have been continuously residing in the US since the date specified for your country
- That you have not been convicted for any felony or two or more misdemeanors committed in the US
- That you are not subject to the mandatory bar to asylum
Individuals with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) are eligible for both work and travel permits. Temporary Protected Status is not a direct pathway towards permanent residency or citizenship. However, in certain circumstances TPS can be a stepping stone for adjustment of status.
U Visa Petition
U Visa Petitions: The U Visa, or U Nonimmigrant Status is a nonimmigrant status for victims of crimes. Applicants have to demonstrate the following:
- They were the victim of a certain crime (there are 28 types of crimes designated by the government)
- They have information concerning that crime
- They cooperated in the investigation or prosecution of that crime
- That crime violated the laws of the US
- They suffered substantial physical or mental abuse (harm) as a result of having been a victim of that crime
- They are admissible to the US (there is a waiver (pardon) available which can waive most violations of immigration law).
After 3 years of U nonimmigrant status, a U visa holder is eligible to apply for his or her green card. Attorney Rachel Benedict has extensive experience preparing U Visa Applications, and can help you through all steps of the case, from preparing a legal argument which demonstrates that the crime is qualifying to carefully reviewing the evidence of physical or mental abuse.
The VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) Self-Petition provides a mechanism for immigrant victims of domestic violence to obtain their immigration status on their own, without relying upon their abusive US citizen or permanent resident spouses. Although the law refers to women, people of all genders may be eligible to self-petition. An applicant must demonstrate that she:
- Is or was married to a US citizen or permanent resident
- Entered into the marriage in “good faith,” that is, with the intent to build a life with her spouse
- Resided with the abusive spouse
- Was the victim of battery or extreme cruelty
- Is a person of good moral character
“Battery” or “extreme cruelty” does not only mean physical violence, but also other forms of control such as threats and verbal abuse. An approved VAWA Self-Petition can be the basis for permanent residency.