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Humanitarian

Humanitarian Visa

Humanitarian

  • Asylum & Refugees

A Refugee status or asylum may be granted to persons who have been persecuted or fear that they will be persecuted because of their race, religion, nationality, and/or membership in a particular social group or political opinion.

  1. Refugees

Refugees status is a type of protection that may be granted to those who meet the definition of refugee under section 101(a)(42) of the immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

A refugee is someone who:

  • Is located outside the United States
  • Is someone who is of special humanitarian concern to the US
  • Demonstrates persecution or a fear of persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group
  • Is not firmly resettled in another country
  • Is admissible to the United States

A refugee may not be someone who has ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in the persecution of any person on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

The Refugee Process

You must first receive a referral to the US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for consideration. Each year the Executive Branch is required to:

  • Review the refugee or emergency refugee situation
  • Project inasmuch as it is possible to do so, the US participation in resettling refugees
  • Discuss the justifications for refugees as humanitarian concern, grave humanitarian concerns, or otherwise as national interests

Following discussions on the executive level and with Congress, a determination which establishes admission levels and regional allocations of all refugees for the fiscal year is presented to the President for signature.

The priorities currently in use are:

  • Priority 1: Cases referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a United States Embassy, or a designated non-governmental organization (NGO).
  • Priority 2: Groups which have been identified by the US refugee program as special humanitarian concerns
  • Priority 3: Family reunification cases

Generally Refugees must be processed outside their home country, but some may be processed within their country if authorized by the president.

Once you receive a referral, you will be asked to fill out an application form, I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal. Your case may include your spouse and children, and in some limited circumstances, other family members.

There is no fee to apply for refugee status; neither will any information provided be shared with the applicant’s home country.

Coming to the United States

If approved, you will receive a medical exam, cultural orientation, help with travel plans, and a loan for travel to the United States. Upon arrival, you will be eligible for both medical and cash assistance. Once within the US, if you wish family members who are abroad to join you, you may file a Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition for your spouse, child, or parents.

Working in the United States

If approved as a Refugee, you may work immediately upon coming to the United States. When admitted, you will receive a Form I-94 which has been stamped with a refugee admission stamp. Also, a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization will be filed for you. However, until this is processed you may show your employer your I-94 as proof of your permission to work in the US.

Filing for a Permanent Residency (Green Card)

If admitted as a refugee, you may apply as a permanent resident after one year of being in the United States. To apply you must file a Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence. There is no fee for refugees to file the Form I-485 or for fingerprinting/biometrics.

Traveling Abroad

After entering the United States under refugee status, if you wish to travel abroad you must obtain a Refugee Travel Document in order to re-enter the US. Without this you will be unable to re-enter. Also, if you travel back to your country of origin, you will have to explain how you were able to return safely.

  1. Asylum

Regardless of your country of origin or current immigration status, those who qualify for asylum are those who:

  • Meet the definition of refugee
  • Already are in the United States
  • Are seeking admission at a port of entry

To apply for Asylum, you must file a Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal within one year of your arrival into the United States. There is no fee to apply

Working in the United States

You may not apply for permission to work (employment authorization) at the same time that you apply for asylum. You may apply for employment authorization if:

  • 150 days have passed since you filed your asylum application
  • Your application has not yet been decided upon

To apply for employment, you must fir a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. There is no fee to apply for work authorization if you have a pending asylum application.

If your application for asylum has been granted then you are automatically authorized to work. An Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is no longer required.

Bringing your Family to the United States

If you wish family members who are abroad to join you, you may file a Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition for your spouse, child, or parents.

Filing for Permanent Residence (Green Card)

You may apply for a green card after a year of having been granted asylum. To apply for a green card you must file a Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status for you and for each family member who received derivative asylum based on your case.

  1. Adoption

There are three processes for adopting a child internationally: 1) Hague Process; 2) Orphan (Non-Hague) Process; 3) Other Adoption Related Immigration.

  1. Hague Process

The Hague Process works under The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). This convention entered into force in the United States on April 1, 2008.

There is an eight step process:

  1. Choose a Hague Accredited Adoption Service Provider (ASP) (as well as perhaps an immigration attorney)
  2. Obtain a home study from someone authorized to complete a Hague adoption home study
  • Apply to USCIS by filing a Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country, before adopting a child or accepting a placement for determination that one is suitable for intercountry adoption
  1. Work with the ASP to obtain a proposed adoption placement after the USCIS approves the application
  2. Before adopting the child, file a Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative, to have the child to be found eligible to immigrate to the US based on the proposed adoption
  3. Adopt the child, or obtain custody of the child in order to adopt the child in the US
  • Obtain an immigrant visa for the child
  • Bring the child to the US for admission with the visa

If you have a reason to believe that the child you wish to adopt would be inadmissible (on medical grounds for example) you may file a Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Ground of Inadmissibility, with For I-800.

Eligibility to Adopt

To be eligible to file a Form I-800A, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a US citizen
  • Reside in the US habitually
  • If you are married, your spouse must also intend to adopt the intended child and be a signatory to the Form I-800A
  • If you are not married you must be at least 24 years of age when you file the I-800A.

To be eligible to file a Form I-800, you must meet the following requirements:

  • The child must be under the age of 16 at the time of the filing
  • The child must habitually reside in a Convention Country
  • You must be found eligible for intercountry adoption by the Central Authority of that country and have obtained all necessary consents for adoption
  • If you are married, your spouse must also adopt the child and sign the Form I-800
  • If you are not married, you must be at least 25 when you file the Form I-800

Instructions for a Hague Convention Birth Siblings between Age 16 and 18

As of November 30, 2010, a Form I-800 may be filed for a sibling between the ages of 16 and 18 if:

  • The child is from a country which is Party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation with Respect to Intercountry Adoption
  • The child is the birth sibling of another foreign national child who has been or will be adopted by the same adoptive parents
  • The Form I-800 is filed before the expiration of the I-800A and before the child’s 18th birthday

No additional filling fee is required when filling a Form I-800 for birth siblings.

Visas

  • IH-3 visa: Issued for children with full and final adoptions from a Hague Convention country
  • IH-4 visa: Issued when a child is coming to the US from a Hague Convention country to be adopted

Citizenship

Children with IH-3 visas automatically acquire citizenship, and are sent their Certificate of Citizenship to your US address without additional forms or fees if:

  • They enter the US prior to their 18th birthday
  • They are automatically citizens upon arrival in the US if the child is over the age of 18
  • They reside in the US with you

Children with IH-4 visas:

  • Do not acquire citizenship upon entry into the US automatically, but become Permanent Residents
  • Automatically receive a permanent resident card (green card)
  • Will automatically acquire citizenship on the date of their adoption in the US if the adoption occurs before the child’s 18th birthday
    1. Orphan Process

Adoptive Parents Eligibility

To be eligible as an adoptive parent, you must:

  • Be a US citizen
    • If you are married, then your spouse must also be a signatory and adopt the child
    • If you are not married, you must be at least 25 years of age when the Form I-600 is filed
  • Establish that you will provide proper parental care to the child
  • Establish that the child that you plan to adopt is an “orphan”
  • Establish that either:
    • You have adopted the child abroad, and that each of you (if married) have seen the child in person before or during the adoption proceeding

OR

  • You will adopt the child in the US after the child arrives within the United States (you must have permission to bring the child out of his or her home country to the US for adoption)

Orphan Eligibility

An orphan is a foreign-born child who:

  • Does not have any parents because of the death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, or separation or loss from, both parents

OR

  • Has a sole or surviving parent who is unable to care for the child, consistent with the local standards of the foreign sending country

It is required to file an orphan petition before the child’s 16th birthday, or before the child’s 18th birthday if the child is a birth sibling of another child whom you have also adopted .

Overseas Investigation

USCIS (or in some instances the Department of State) will conduct an investigation to verify that the child is an orphan. The purpose of this investigation is to:

  • Confirm that the child is an orphan
  • Verify that a valid adoption has been obtained
  • The child does not have an illness not included on the orphan petition
  • Determine whether there are any special needs not fully addressed in the home study for the child
  • Determine if there are any facts which would show that the child does not qualify for immigration as your adopted child

Hague Adoption Convention Cases

If the child you wish to adopt is a national of a country which is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, the you will not be able to use the Orphan Process.

Visas

  • IR-3 visa: Issued when a full and final adoption is completed abroad
    • Requires that the parent(s) physically see the child before the adoption proceedings
  • IR-4 visa: Issued to a child that:
    • Will come to the US to be adopted
    • Was adopted abroad by a single parent (if married)
    • Was not seen by the parent(s) prior to the adoption

Citizenship

Children with IR-3 visas automatically acquire citizenship, and are sent their Certificate of Citizenship to your US address without additional forms or fees if:

  • They enter the US prior to their 18th birthday
  • They are automatically citizens upon arrival in the US if the child is over the age of 18
  • They reside in the US with you

Children with IR-4 visas:

  • Do not acquire citizenship upon entry into the US automatically, but become Permanent Residents
  • Automatically receive a permanent resident card (green card)
  • Will automatically acquire citizenship on the date of their adoption in the US if the adoption occurs before the child’s 18th birthday
    1. Other Adoption Related Immigration

The difference between the Hague and Orphan processes and the Immediate Relative Process is:

  • The Immediate Relative Process is not limited to individuals who have been or are going to be adopted by US citizens
  • The adopting parent must have evidence of a final adoption before the adoption may be the basis for immigration benefits
  • Adopted children may petition for their parents and siblings.

Who is an Adopted Child Under the Immediate Relative Process?

An adopted child is considered to be the child (or adult son or daughter( of the adopting parent if:

  • Evidence of full and final adoption is available which took place before the child’s 16th birthday (or 18th birthday under certain circumstances)

AND

  • The parent had legal and physical custody of the child for at least two years during the child’s minor years
    • Legal custody must have resulted from a formal grant of custody by a court or other government entity
    • Custody and residency requirements may be met by time spent in custody and residence before adoption
    • The two year residency requirements may be waived for certain abused children

A child is still considered to have been adopted if the adoption happened after the child’s 16th birthday but before the child’s 18th birthday, and:

  • The child is the sibling of another child who was adopted before the age of 16 through the Immediate Relative Process.

OR

  • The child is the sibling of another child who was adopted before the age of 16 through the Orphan process.

Who can Petition Under this Process for a Relative by Adoption?

  • A US citizen, for:
    • Children (unmarried and under the age of 21)
    • Unmarried sons or daughters over the age of 21
    • Married sons or daughters
  • A permanent resident (green card holder), for:
    • Children (unmarried and under the age of 21)
    • Unmarried sons or daughters over the age of 21

Visa

IR-2 visa: Issued to a child:

  • Adopted by a citizen (for children adopted while unmarried and under the age of 21)
  • Adopted after his or her 21st birthday if treated under the Child Status Protection Act

Citizenship

Children with IR-2 visas that are:

  • Under 18 years of age upon entry into the US acquire US citizenship
  • Over age of 18 years of age become permanent residents and can apply for citizenship when eligible.
  1. Temporary Protected Status

The Secretary of Homeland Security has authority to designate a foreign country Temporary Protected Status (TPS) due to conditions in the country which prevent nationals of that country from returning safely. Such conditions include:

  • Ongoing armed conflicts (such as civil war)
  • Environmental disasters (such as earthquakes or hurricanes), or epidemics
  • Other extraordinary and temporary conditions

TPS beneficiaries, for a designated period of time:

  • Are not removable from the US
  • Can obtain employment authorization documents(EAD)
  • May be granted travel authorization
  • Cannot be detained by DHS on the basis of immigration status in the US

However, TPS is a temporary benefit that does not lead to lawful permanent status or give any other immigration status.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible, you must:

  • Be a national or someone without nationality who last habitually resided in a country designated for TPS
  • File during the open initial registration or re-registration periods
  • Have been continuously physical present in the US since the effective date of the most recent designation date of your country
  • Have been continuously residing in the US since the date specified for your country

You may not be eligible for TPS if:

  • You have been convicted of a felony or two or more misdemeanors in the US
  • You are found ineligible under grounds of INA section 212(a) (including criminal and security-related grounds)
  • You are subject to any of the mandatory bars to asylum, including (but not limited to) persecution of another or terrorist activities
  • You fail to meet continuous physical presence and residence requirements
  • You fail to meet initial TPS registration requirements
  • You fail, after being granted TPS, to re-register for TPS as required, without good cause

What to File

To register, you must file (even if you do not want an Employment Authorization Document):

  • Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status
  • Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization

As well as three types of Evidence with your application:

  1. Identity and Nationality Evidence

Primary Evidence

  • A copy of your password
  • A copy of birth certificate with accompanying photo ID
  • National identity documentation bearing your photograph or fingerprints

No Primary Evidence to be included with an affidavit (if you do not have primary evidence; an interview with USCIS will follow)

  • Proof of unsuccessful efforts to obtain such documents; and
  • An explanation why consular process for your country was not an option for you

Secondary Evidence

  • Nationality documentation even without photograph or fingerprints
  • Baptismal certificates if indicative of nationality or parent’s nationality
  • Copies of school or medical records if indicative of nationality
  • Copies of other immigration documents showing nationality
  • Affidavits from friends or family members with personal knowledge of the date and place of your birth or your parent’s nationality
    1. Date of Entry Evidence
  • Copy of your passport
  • I-94 Arrival/Departure Record
    1. Continuously Residing Evidence
  • Employment Records
  • Rent receipts, utility bills, receipts or letters from companies
  • School records of you or your children in the US
  • You or your children’s hospital or medical records
  • Statements by church, union or other organization officials who have personal knowledge of where you have been residing

Application Process

Step 1: File your Petition: include your TPS package with all of the forms, evidence, and filling fees.

Step 2: USCIS Receives your Application: Upon receipt you will be sent notice

Step 3: USCIS Contacts You: You will be contacted to have your biometrics captured at an Application Support Center (ASC)

Step 4: Go to the ASC: You must bring; 1) Evidence of nationality and identity with a photograph such as a passport; 2) Your receipt notice; 3) Your ASC appointment notice; 4) Your current EAD, if you already have one

Step 5: USCIS Determines Work Eligibility

Step 6: USCIS Adjudicates the Application: You may be contacted at this phase for additional information

Step 7: USCIS Approves or Denies the Application

  1. Deferred Enforcement Departures

Although not a specific immigration status, individuals covered under Deferred Enforcement Departures (DED), under the President’s discretion, are not subject to removal from the US, normally for designated periods of time.

Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility requirements for those covered under DED are based on the terms of the President’s directive for the specific country established by DHS.

 

  • Battered Spouse, Children & Parents: Violence against Women Act (VAWA)

VAWA allows spouses, children and parents of US citizens and permanent residents (green card holders) under certain circumstances to file a petition for themselves independently and without the knowledge of the abuser.

Those Eligible to File

  • Spouse: you are eligible to petition for this status if you are:
    • Married to a US citizen or permanent resident abuser

OR

  • Your marriage to the abuser ended by death or a divorce (due at least in part to the abuse) within 2 years of your prior filling, or
  • Due to an instance of domestic violence, your spouse lost or renounced his or her citizenship or permanent residence, or
  • Your marriage to your abusive citizen or permanent resident spouse was illegitimate due to your abusive spouse’s bigamy, but you believed it to be valid;
  • You have been abused within the US by your US citizen or permanent resident spouse, or
  • You have been by your US citizen or permanent resident spouse outside of the US if that spouse was employed by the US government or is in a US uniformed service, or
  • You are the parent of a child who has been abused by your US citizen or permanent spouse;
  • You entered into the marriage in good faith, not to gain immigration benefits
  • You have lived with your spouse
  • You have a good moral character
  • Children: you are eligible to file if you:
    • Are the child of a US citizen or permanent resident abuser
    • Are the victim of abuse of a US citizen or permanent resident who lost citizenship or lawful permanent resident status due to domestic violence
    • Were abused within the US by the citizen or permanent resident abuser
    • You have been by your US citizen or permanent resident parent outside of the US if that parent was employed by the US government or is in a US uniformed service
    • Have lived with the abusive parent
    • Are able to evidentially prove your parental relationship
    • If over the age of 14, must be able to show evidence of good moral character
  • Parents: you are eligible to file if you:
    • You are a parent of a current US citizen son or daughter, or the parent of a former US citizen son or daughter who has since renounced their citizenship due to domestic violence or has passed away within 2 years prior to filing
    • You have been abused by your US citizen son or daughter
    • You have lived with your abusive son or daughter
    • You are a person of good moral character

Filing Process

You must complete a Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow)er), or Special Immigrant (including evidentiary documentation) with the Vermont Service Center (VSC). If you meet all the filing requirements you will receive an initial notice valid for 150 days that may be presented for certain public benefits of victims of domestic violence. If your petition is approved and you do not have legal immigration status you may be placed in deferred action allowing you to remain in the US.

Working in the United States

If your I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, is approved and you are placed in deferred action, you are eligible to file the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization with the Vermont Service Center. Your children listed on the Form I-360 are also eligible to apply.

Permanent Residence (Green Card)

If your Form I-360 is approved, you may be eligible to file for a green card.

 

  • Victims of Human Trafficking & Other Crimes

Immigration relief is provided to help victims and their families of human trafficking and other crimes in the United States. Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery in which traffickers lure individuals with false promises of employment and a better life. Other crimes include: rape, murder, manslaughter, domestic violence, sexual assault, and many others.

There are two types of immigration relief provided in the US for victims of human trafficking and other crimes: T Nonimmigrant Status (T Visa), and U Nonimmigrant Status (U Visa). For more information please call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 888-3737-888.

T Nonimmigrant Status (T Visa)

Under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTPA), victims of human trafficking are allowed to remain in the US to assist in investigations or prosecutions of human trafficking.

Eligibility Requirements

You are eligible for a T visa if you:

  • Are or were a victim of trafficking
  • Are in the US of at a port of entry due to trafficking
  • Comply with any reasonable request from law enforecement for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking (or you are under the age of 18 and unable to assist)
  • Demonstrate that deportation would result in extreme hardship
  • Are admissible to the Us or have applied a waiver Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Non-Immigrant

Applying for T Nonimmigrant Status

In order to apply for a T visa, submit the following:

  • A Form I-914, Application for T Nonimmigrant Status
  • Three passport size photographs
  • A personal statement on how you were victimized under human trafficking (on the Form I-914)
  • Evidence to show that you meet the eligibility requirements of a T visa

Qualifying Family Members for Derivative T Visas

If you are under 21 years of age you may apply on behalf of your spouse, children, parents and unmarried siblings who are under the age of 18.

If you are 21 years of age or older you may apply on behalf of your spouse and children.

Both groups must submit a Form I-914, Supplement A, Application for Immediate Family Member of T-1 Recipient.

Green Card Eligibility Criteria and Process

To apply for a green card as a T-1 nonimmigrant (principal), you must:

  • Have been physically present in the US for:
    • For 3 years continuously since the filing as a T-1 nonimmigrant status
    • A continuous period during the investigation or prosecution of the trafficking, and the Attorney General has determined that the investigation or prosecution is complete, whichever period of time is less
  • Show that you have been a person of good moral character since being admitted as a T-1 nonimmigrant and until a decision is made on your Form I-485
  • Show that you have complied with all reasonable requests for assistance made to you in the investigation or prosecution of acts of trafficking since being admitted under T-1 status and until a decision has been made on your Form I-485
  • Show that you would suffer extreme hardship if removed from the US
  • Be admissible to the US as a permanent resident.

You may apply after a period of 3 years of holding a T nonimmigrant status and having certification from the Attorney Gneral that the investigation or prosecution is complete by filing a Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent residence or Adjust Status.

Family members who were granted derivative T nonimmigrant status may also apply for green cards if:

  • They are a family member of a T-1 principal applicant
  • They are in T-2, T-3, T-4, or T-5 derivative nonimmigrant status
  • The T-1 principal applicant’s Form I-485 is pending or being filed simultaneously
  • The T-1 principal meets the eligibility requirements of permanent residency
  • They are admissible to the US as a permanent resident

U Nonimmigrant Status (U Visa)

Under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (including the Battered Immigrant Women’s Protection Act) victims of crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse due to the crime are allowed to remain in the US to help law enforcement authorities in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.

U Nonimmigrant Eligibility

You may be eligible for a U visa if you:

  • Are the victim of a qualifying criminal activity
  • As a result of being victimized by criminal activity, have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse
  • Have information on the crime, or if under the age of 16 and unable to provide it, a parent, guardian, or next friend has information on the crime
  • Are helpful to the investigation or prosecution of the crime, or if under the age of 16 and unable to provide information, a parent, guardian, or next friend is helpful to law enforcement
  • Are admissible to the US or have applied for a waiver Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as aNon-Immigrant

AND

  • The crime occurred within the US or violated US laws

Qualifying Criminal Activities

  • Abduction
  • Abusive Sexual Contact
  • Blackmail
  • Domestic Violence
  • Extortion
  • False Imprisonment
  • Female Genital Mutilation
  • Felonious Assault
  • Hostage
  • Incest
  • Involuntary Servitude
  • Kidnapping
  • Manslaughter
  • Murder
  • Obstruction of Justice
  • Peonage
  • Perjury
  • Prostitution
  • Rape
  • Sexual Assault
  • Sexual Exploitation
  • Slave Trade
  • Torture
  • Trafficking
  • Witness Tampering
  • Unlawful Criminal Restraint
  • Other Related Crimes

Petitioning for U Nonimmigrant Status (U Visa)

To petition for this visa you must submit:

  • Form I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status
  • Form I-918, Supplement B, U Nonimmigrant Status Certification (law enforcement confirms that you will likely be helpful to the US)
  • Personal statement about the crime and your victimization

Qualifying Family Members for Derivative U Visas

If you are under 21 years of age you may apply on behalf of your spouse, children, parents and unmarried siblings who are under the age of 18.

If you are 21 years of age or older you may apply on behalf of your spouse and children.

Both groups must submit a Form I-918, Supplement A, Petition for Immediate Family Member of U-1 Recipient.