Humanitarian Based Visas
Every year the United States admits individuals throughout the world based solely upon humanitarian based concerns. These humanitarian based visas are meant to protect the most vulnerable and abused people. Some of the humanitarian based visas available to the United States include refugee visas, asylum, battered spouses and children, and temporary protected status. The various different types of humanitarian based visas that are available all have different eligibility requirements and some are for limited duration while some grant permanent resident status and a pathway to citizenship.
Refugees are individuals that are outside the United States and who are persecuted or who fear persecution due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Individuals that are seeking refugee status are subject to thorough screening that includes both biometric and biographical security checks. Obtaining refugee status is lengthy and complicated process that begins at the United Nations. Once referred to the Department of State, a refugee is processed and then interviewed by the USCIS.
If an individual is able to pass all the various security and medical screenings and successfully obtains refugee status, the person and his or her family are able to move to the United States. The United States will have you attend a cultural orientation, help with your travel plans, and provide you a loan for your travel to the United States. After your resettlement in the United States you and your family will be eligible for public benefits. Refugee status automatically comes with it a work authorization allowing you to work in the United States. Additionally, after 1-year you and your family will be eligible to receive a green card.
Asylum status is similar to refugee status. The main difference between the two is that an individual seeking asylum is currently in the United States; whereas, refugee status is only available to individuals who are currently outside the United States. Like refugee status, asylum protects individuals who are persecuted or who fear persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or based upon their political opinion. An asylum petition must be filed within 1-year of entering the United States.
An approved asylum petition allows work authorization. A person waiting for an asylum decision must wait 150 days after filing before he or she will be allowed to work in the United States.
More information can be found here: Asylum Law in the United States
Battered Spouses, Children, and Parents
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was created in 1994 and after a long legislative battle was reauthorized by Congress in 2013. One of the aspects of VAWA that caused most of the controversy surrounding its renewal is VAWA’s provision allowing temporary immigrant status to victims of domestic violence or domestic battery. VAWA is gender neutral and it applies equally to male victims and same-sex couples.
The provisions of VAWA apply differently based upon whether you are an abused or battered spouse, child or parent. For example, only abused or batted parents of a United States citizen are eligible to file a VAWA petition. However, the spouse or child of a U.S. citizen and of a permanent resident may file a VAWA petition.
A successful VAWA petition will allow the petitioner to work in the United States along with the petitioner’s children. Additionally, a successful VAWA petition will allow the person to receive a green card.
More information can be found here: VAWA petitions
U-Visa- Victims of Crime
Undocumented individuals are vulnerable to victimization solely based upon their lack of status in the United States. Historically, undocumented individuals who were the victims of crime were hesitant to come forward afraid that they would be deported and separated from their families if they went to the police to report a crime. To help alleviate this concern, Congress created the U-Visa, which protects victims of certain crimes. A U-Visa allows a person to obtain permanent resident status. U-Visas are available to individuals who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse due to being a victim of a crime and are willing to help law enforcement authorities in the investigation or prosecution of the crime.
To be eligible for a U-Visa a person must have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse as a result form a qualifying crime and have relevant information about the crime and that you are helpful in the prosecution or investigation of the crime. Of course, the crime must have occurred in the United States to qualify as criminal activity protected by the U-Visa.
Not all crimes are protected by the U-Visa. The crimes that are covered involve kidnapping, sexual assault, sexual abuse, felonious assault, extortion, domestic battery, murder, staling, and prostitution. Victims of property crimes or simple misdemeanors do not qualify for a U-Visa.
A U-Visa is available to those that are inadmissible and subject to a bar on entry to the country. Therefore, even individuals that are subject to a 10-year entry ban are eligible to apply for a U-Visa. Additionally, if granted a U-Visa a person is eligible to adjust their status to a permanent resident after 3 years of having U-Visa status. U-Visa recipients are also eligible to work in the country.
More information can be found here: U-Visa
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
Although not technically a humanitarian visa, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was created by executive order to focus the enforcement budget of USCIS on individuals that pose a national or public security interest. DACA allows individuals who brought to the United States as children deferred status and work authorization in the U.S. Since its implementation DACA status has been given to nearly 600,000 undocumented individuals. DACA status is potentially available to anyone that qualifies even if they are currently in removal proceedings.
More information can be found here: DACA petitions
Humanitarian based visas are an effective means of staying in the United States when no other options are available. Such visas were created to protect the most vulnerable of people and provide them with a chance to begin their American Dream. However, these visas are almost always over-subscribed so it is imperative that your petition is correct. Jaleel Law has the experience to help. Contact us to discuss your options with an immigration attorney.