There are a number of forms of humanitarian relief for both minors and adults under U.S. immigration law, including asylum, special protection for children and young adults, visas for foreign nationals who are victims of crime or trafficking and who assist U.S. law enforcement in investigations and prosecutions, and for family members of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents who suffer from domestic violence or abuse.
Foreign nationals may qualify for asylum status if they fear persecution based on their political beliefs, religion, nationality, race, or membership in a particular social group. An asylum applicant's fear of persecution must be both objectively and subjectively reasonable, and the persecution must either be by the government itself, or a group of persons that the government is unable or unwilling to control. A 2018 decision by the U.S. Attorney General may make the asylum process more difficult, especially for individuals who suffered or fear persecution at the hands of private actors, like gangs or abusive spouses. Now, more than ever, it is critical for asylum applicants to obtain comprehensive legal advice as to how to best prepare their claims.
The benefits and protections afforded to children and young adults under U.S. immigration laws and policies are rapidly evolving. For example, a provision known as “Special Immigrant Juvenile Status” or “SIJS” provides a path to lawful permanent residency, and ultimately U.S. citizenship, for certain children who have been abused, abandoned, and neglected.
In addition, although President Obama’s 2012 policy known as “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” or “DACA” was terminated for new applicants, it continues to provide protection from deportation and employment authorization to certain children and young adults who already established that they met required educational benchmarks and arrived in the United States before a certain date. Moreover, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have implemented child-specific policies and procedures, including special treatment for child asylum seekers.
Certain foreign national victims of criminal activity may be eligible to obtain lawful immigration status if they help law enforcement investigate and/or prosecute the crime, including human trafficking. S visas are available for foreign nationals who assist law enforcement in investigating and/or prosecuting criminals even if the foreign nationals themselves are not victims. Under the Violence Against Women Act, a foreign national who is an immediate family member (child, parent, or current/former spouse) and is a victim of violence or abuse by their U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) family member may be able to obtain immigration status without the assistance of the abusive relative.
Our immigration attorneys assist clients from throughout the world in a variety of U.S. asylum and humanitarian immigration cases. Contact Grossman Young & Hammond now to discuss your immigration options and how our experienced attorneys can help.