Sometimes, the situation in a specific country or countries can simply be too difficult or dangerous to allow immigrants to return. However, not every immigrant has or can get into the appropriate immigration status in time. To prevent potential violence to innocents, the United States has a variety of humanitarian immigration benefits that can be applied for if a temporary safe harbor is needed while life becomes less dangerous.
Temporary Protected Status
Temporary Protected Status (TPS), while it does not provide any permanent immigration benefit, is an immigration status granted by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to the citizens of countries undergoing significant (but temporary) upheaval, such as a natural disaster or ongoing war. Recent examples of nations whose citizens have been granted TPS in the United States include Nepal and South Sudan.
People who have been granted TPS cannot use it as a stepping stone to any kind of permanent benefit, but it will grant both relief from deportation and, usually, an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Also, there is no law barring those under TPS from using the time to apply for a more permanent status or adjusting their lawful status; they simply cannot use their TPS status to do so.
Visas for Crime Victims
Victims of crimes, especially violent crimes, often require help from governmental interests in order to be safe. In some situations, the U.S. government offers visas designed to grant immigration status in exchange for testimony or information about the person or organization who victimized them. Primarily, this status is extended to trafficking victims, and to victims of crime that have been left with substantial physical or mental trauma. The T and U visas are offered to these categories respectively, and confer nonimmigrant status (similar to, for example, a visitor’s visa valid for months or years).
To obtain a T or U visa, however, one important criteria to note is that you must otherwise be admissible to the United States. In other words, you must not have anything in your history that would bar you from entering the United States in a normal, non-emergency situation. For example, if you are the victim of sexual assault at the hands of a U.S. citizen, on U.S. soil, but in the past, you have overstayed a U.S. visa and been deported, you would likely not be offered a U visa because of your inadmissibility.
There is one exception to this rule. If the crime you have been a victim of is domestic violence, and you are the spouse, parent, or child of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who has abused you, you can apply for an immigrant visa under the Violence Against Women Act (despite its name, its protections are also available to battered men). Inadmissibility is irrelevant in determination of this petition, but not every petition is granted.
Contact an Immigration Attorney
If you are a victim of crime or circumstance, you may be able to obtain legal status, even if temporary, that may allow you and your family to get your affairs in order so that you can investigate more permanent options. The compassionate DuPage County immigration attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC are happy to walk you through the process of obtaining deportation relief, and can offer guidance as to what path would be best for you and your family. Contact our offices today at 630-932-9100 or via the web to schedule a free consultation.
Whether you are going through a divorce, injured in an accident, need to file a workers' compensation claim, charged with a crime, immigrating to the United States, or need to file for bankruptcy, Mevorah Law Offices LLC can help. Our trial lawyers have over 40 years of experience helping clients throughout Northern Illinois from five offices in Lombard, Bloomindale, Naperville, St. Charles, and Chicago.
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