“One day there will be no borders, no boundaries, no flags and no countries and the only passport will be the heart.”
USCIS provides a number of humanitarian programs and protection to assist individuals in need of shelter or aid from disasters, oppression, emergency medical issues and other urgent circumstances.
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Battered Spouse, Children & Parents
As a battered spouse, child or parent, you may file an immigrant visa petition under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
The VAWA provisions in the INA allow certain spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizens and certain spouses and children of permanent residents (Green Card holders) to file a petition for themselves, without the abuser’s knowledge. This allows victims to seek both safety and independence from their abuser, who is not notified about the filing.
The VAWA provisions, which apply equally to women and men, are permanent and do not require congressional reauthorization.
Help is also available from the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TDD). The hotline has information about shelters, mental health care, legal advice and other types of assistance, including information about filing for immigration status. For more information, visit the National Domestic Violence website.
For more information, please go to http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/battered-spouse-children-parents
DACA – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
Deferred action is a discretionary determination to defer removal action of an individual as an act of prosecutorial discretion. Individuals who receive deferred action will not be placed into removal proceedings or removed from the United States for a specified period of time, unless the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) chooses to terminate the deferral. Individuals filing Form I-821D must also file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and Form I-765WS, Form I-765 Worksheet.
Due to federal court orders, USCIS has resumed accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). USCIS is not accepting requests from individuals who have never before been granted deferred action under DACA. See Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals: Response to January 2018 Preliminary Injunction for more information. Go to https://www.uscis.gov/i-821d for more information
Victims of Human Trafficking & Other Crimes
USCIS helps protect victims of human trafficking and other crimes by providing immigration relief. Human trafficking, also known as trafficking in persons, is a form of modern-day slavery in which traffickers lure individuals with false promises of employment and a better life. Please also go to http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/victims-human-trafficking-other-crimes
Individuals and their families may also fall victim to many other types of crime in the United States. These crimes include: rape, murder, manslaughter, domestic violence, sexual assault, and many others.
There are two types of immigration relief we provide to victims of human trafficking and other crimes:
T nonimmigrant status provides immigration protection to victims of trafficking. The T Visa allows victims to remain in the United States and assist law enforcement authorities in the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking cases.
U nonimmigrant status provides immigration protection to crime victims who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse as a result of the crime. The U visa allows victims to remain in the United States and assist law enforcement authorities in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.
USCIS offers resources for victims of human trafficking and other crimes and the organizations that serve them. This information is designed to help answer any questions you or your family might have about obtaining T or U Nonimmigrant status. USCIS has also developed additional materials specifically for law enforcement agencies. Please see Resources for Victims of Human Trafficking & Other Crimes for more information.
USCIS is dedicated to informing law enforcement and community based organizations about the forms of relief offered to victims of human trafficking, domestic violence and other crimes. To receive training on this topic, please send an email to T-UVAWATraining@dhs.gov
For more information please call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center 888-3737-888. Learn more about human trafficking through the Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign. http://www.dhs.gov/end-human-trafficking
Temporary Protected Status – TPS
What is TPS?
The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a foreign country for TPS due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately. USCIS may grant TPS to eligible nationals of certain countries (or parts of countries), who are already in the United States. Eligible individuals without nationality who last resided in the designated country may also be granted TPS.
The Secretary may designate a country for TPS due to the following temporary conditions in the country:
- Ongoing armed conflict (such as civil war)
- An environmental disaster (such as earthquake or hurricane), or an epidemic
- Other extraordinary and temporary conditions
Currently, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Syria have been designated for TPS. For the requirements, please refer to http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/temporary-protected-status-deferred-enforced-departure/temporary-protected-status
During a designated period, individuals who are TPS beneficiaries or who are found preliminarily eligible for TPS upon initial review of their cases (prima facie eligible):
- Are not removable from the United States
- Can obtain an employment authorization document (EAD)
- May be granted travel authorization
Once granted TPS, an individual also cannot be detained by DHS on the basis of his or her immigration status in the United States.
TPS is a temporary benefit that does not lead to lawful permanent resident status or give any other immigration status. However, registration for TPS does not prevent you from:
- Applying for nonimmigrant status
- Filing for adjustment of status based on an immigrant petition
- Applying for any other immigration benefit or protection for which you may be eligible
PLEASE NOTE: To be granted any other immigration benefit you must still meet all the eligibility requirements for that particular benefit. An application for TPS does not affect an application for asylum or any other immigration benefit and vice versa. Denial of an application for asylum or any other immigration benefit does not affect your ability to register for TPS, although the grounds of denial of that application may also lead to denial of TPS.
Every year people come to the United States seeking protection because they have suffered persecution or fear that they will suffer persecution due to:
- Membership in a particular social group
- Political opinion
If you are eligible for asylum you may be permitted to remain in the United States. To apply for Asylum, file a Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, within one year of your arrival to the United States. There is no fee to apply for asylum.
You may include your spouse and children who are in the United States on your application at the time you file or at any time until a final decision is made on your case. To include your child on your application, the child must be under 21 and unmarried. For more information see our Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal page.
Permission to Work in the United States
You cannot apply for permission to work (employment authorization) in the United States at the same time you apply for asylum.
You may apply for employment authorization if:
- 150 days have passed since you filed your complete asylum application, excluding any delays caused by you (such as a request to reschedule your interview) AND
- No decision has been made on your application
If you are granted asylum you may work immediately. Some asylees choose to obtain Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) for convenience or identification purposes, but an EAD is not necessary to work if you are an asylee.
To apply for employment authorization, you must file a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. There is no fee to apply for your first EAD if you have a pending asylum application or if you have been granted asylum. For more information, please refer to http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/refugees-asylum/asylum
Under United States law, a refugee is someone who:
- Is located outside of the United States
- Is of special humanitarian concern to the United States
- Demonstrates that they were persecuted or fear 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 does not include anyone who 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.
For the legal definition of refugee, see section 101(a)(42) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
The Refugee Process
You must receive a referral to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for consideration as a refugee. For more information on the referral criteria, see the USRAP Consultations and Worldwide Processing Priorities page at http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/refugees-asylum/refugees/united-states-refugee-admissions-program-usrap-consultation-worldwide-processing-priorities
If you receive a referral, you will receive help filling out your application and then be interviewed abroad by a USCIS officer who will determine whether you are eligible for refugee resettlement. For more information about eligibility, please go to Refugee Eligibility Determination http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/refugees-asylum/refugees/refugee-eligibility-determination
Your case may include your spouse, child (unmarried and under 21years of age), and in some limited circumstances, other family members.. You may include a same-sex spouse in your application provided that you and your spouse are legally married. As a general matter, USCIS looks to the law of the place where the marriage took place when determining whether it is valid for immigration law purposes. Same-sex partners who are not married but who are qualified to access the U.S. Refugee Admissions under one of the three designated worldwide processing priorities may have their cases cross-referenced so that they can be interviewed at the same time and, if approved by USCIS, resettled in the same geographic area in the United States.
Humanitarian parole is used sparingly to bring someone who is otherwise inadmissible into the United States for a temporary period of time due to a compelling emergency.
USCIS may grant parole temporarily:
- To anyone applying for admission into the United States based on urgent humanitarian reasons or if there is a significant public benefit
- For a period of time that corresponds with the length of the emergency or humanitarian situation
Parolees must depart the United States before the expiration of their parole. You may submit a request for reparole, which must be approved by USCIS. Parole does not grant any immigration benefits.
Requirements for Parole
- Anyone can file an application for humanitarian parole.
- You may file an application for parole if you cannot obtain the necessary admission documents from the Department of State
- You cannot use parole to avoid normal visa-issuing procedures or to bypass immigration procedures. As noted above, there must be an urgent humanitarian reason or significant public benefit for the parole to be granted
Filing for Parole
To file for parole you must:
- Complete a Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, and Include the filing fee for each parole applicant
- Complete a Form I-134, Affidavit of Support, for each applicant in order to demonstrate that you will not become a public charge
- Include detailed explanation and evidence of your circumstances
If you are represented by an attorney, he or she must file a Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Representative.