If you have suffered past persecution or fear future persecution in your home country due to your nationality, race, religion, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group, you can apply for asylum in the United States regardless of your current immigration status – or lack thereof. There are two types of asylum applications: Affirmative Asylum and Defensive Asylum.
Affirmative Asylum: If you are a foreigner physically present in the United States, or if you are seeking entry at a United States port of entry, you can file an I-589 Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal with USCIS. The I-589 Application should be filed within one year of your last entry to the United States. An I-589 Application can be filed outside of the one-year deadline, but you must explain the extraordinary or changed circumstances that caused you to file your application outside of the one-year deadline. An asylum application includes a sworn statement describing why you fled your home country and why you are afraid to return. USCIS offices that review asylum applications are currently backlogged, causing applications to pend for 2-3 years before an asylum interview is scheduled. Once your asylum application has been pending for 150 days, you are able to request employment authorization to work lawfully in the United States. Your employment authorization will be valid for two years, and it can be renewed throughout the waiting period prior to your asylum interview. Once you appear for your asylum interview, the USCIS officer will generally issue either an approval notice or a referral to immigration court. In some cases, an applicant may receive a recommended approval if security checks are still pending or a Notice of Intent to Deny explaining why an applicant is ineligible for asylum. Asylum applications are very highly scrutinized by USCIS. Caruso Law Group can help you prepare a thorough and compelling asylum application that describes your unique experience with past persecution or your fear of future persecution. Attorney Caruso can prepare you for your asylum interview and attend the interview with you, helping you to feel confident when you appear before the USCIS officer who will determine the outcome of your application.
Defensive Asylum: If you are in immigration court, you can file an I-589 Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal. You will be scheduled for an individual hearing in front of an Immigration Judge who will listen to your testimony and testimony from any witnesses appearing on your behalf. The Immigration Judge commonly asks the asylum applicant direct questions about his or her experiences with past persecution or the fear of future persecution. Once the Immigration Judge has heard all testimony, a decision will be issued, usually at the conclusion of the individual hearing. Caruso Law Group can help you prepare a thorough and compelling asylum application that describes your unique experience with past persecution or your fear of future persecution. Attorney Caruso can prepare you and the witnesses appearing on your behalf to testify in front of the Immigration Judge. Attorney Caruso can also appear with you in Immigration Court on the day of your individual hearing.
If your asylum application is approved, you are considered an asylee in the United States. After you have been physically present in the United States for one year as an asylee, you can apply for a green card.
VAWA (Violence Against Women Act)
A VAWA application allows for battered spouses, children, and parents to obtain lawful status in the United States. Despite its title, both men and women can file VAWA applications. The VAWA application process starts by filing Form I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant. The petition is accompanied by evidence, including a sworn statement from the applicant describing the relationship and the abuse suffered. If the applicant is a self-petitioning battered spouse or child of a U.S. citizen, an I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (green card application) may be filed at the same time as the I-360 Petition. Once the I-360 Petition is approved, all applicants are eligible for employment authorization and to file an I-485 Application if it was not concurrently filed with the VAWA petition. Caruso Law Group understands the extremely sensitive nature of the VAWA application. Caruso Law Group can help you describe your relationship and the abuse suffered, and prepare the evidence needed for USCIS to evaluate your application.
U NONIMMIGRANT VISA
If you have been the victim of a crime that occurred in the United States or a crime that violated United States laws, you may be eligible for U Nonimmigrant Status. U Nonimmigrant Visas are available to certain crime victims who suffered physical or mental abuse as a result of the crime. The process of obtaining a U Nonimmigrant Visa begins by satisfying two very specific requirements: 1) you must have been the victim of a qualifying crime, and 2) you must have information regarding the crime and have cooperated with the law enforcement agency (LEA) that investigated the case. If you can satisfy those requirements, you can take the first step toward applying for the U Nonimmigrant Visa.
First, you must contact the LEA that investigated the case and/or prosecuted the offender. The LEA must complete and sign Form I-918, Supplement B, U Nonimmigrant Certification. Without an original, signed, valid certification, your application will be automatically denied by USCIS. The LEA is not required to sign the certification, and the certification process is discretionary. Attorney Caruso can communicate with the LEA on your behalf in order to obtain the signed certification. Attorney Caruso has had a great deal of success in obtaining signed certifications from various LEAs throughout the United States. The certification, once signed by the LEA, has a six-month validity. Once you have obtained the signed certification, you are ready to move to the second step in the process, which is to file Form I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status.
In addition to the signed certification from the LEA, your I-918 Petition must include a sworn statement detailing the crime, the harm suffered, and your cooperation with the LEA. If you do not file your I-918 Petition to USCIS before your certification from the LEA expires, you must obtain a new certification.
Only 10,000 U Nonimmigrant Visas are granted each year. If the cap has been met while you are waiting for a final decision on your I-918 Petition, you will be placed on a waiting list. Once you are on the waiting list, you are granted deferred action, which allows you to file for employment authorization. The employment authorization can be renewed annually as you wait for a final decision on your I-918 Petition and for a U Nonimmigrant Visa to become available. U Nonimmigrant Visa processing is extremely backlogged at this time. It is taking approximately three years for a I-918 Petition to be reviewed. Caruso Law Group can help you determine if you have been the victim of a qualifying crime. Caruso Law Group can assist you in preparing a complete I-918 Petition by working with the LEA to obtain the certification and helping to describe the crime and how you have suffered as a result of it.
DACA – CONSIDERATION OF DEFERRED ACTION FOR CHILDHOOD ARRIVALS
“Deferred action” means that the United States government will defer removal actions against you for a certain period of time. Deferred action does not provide lawful status (i.e., you do not receive a green card). If you meet the following requirements, you may be eligible to request DACA status in the United States:
- You were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
- You came to the United States before turning 16 years old
- You are residing in the United States and have resided in the United States continuously since June 15, 2007
- You were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012
- You had no lawful status on June 15, 2012
- You are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, you have obtained a GED, or you are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States
- You have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and you do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety
A DACA application (Form I-821D) is submitted to USCIS, and, once approved, you receive DACA status for a period of two years. Your DACA application will include an application for employment authorization, which will provide you with an employment authorization card after your DACA application is approved. You can obtain a social security number with your employment authorization card, and most states allow you to use your employment authorization card to apply for a driver’s license. You may apply to renew your DACA status every two years. Caruso Law Group can help you determine if you are eligible to request DACA status and work with you to prepare a complete DACA application.