People come to the United States for a number of reasons. They come for work, for adventure or love, or even for freedom from abuse or persecution. It is not always easy to break into American society, though, and new immigrants often have little experience and knowledge of their rights. With this, children and young adults are especially vulnerable to criminal efforts by others. Every young immigrant has his or her own story.
Undocumented youths do have significant protection under United States immigration law though. There are two particular paths to legal status that young adults living illegally in America may want to pursue. If you ran away from racial, political or religious harassment in your homeland, then you may qualify for asylum. If you have already been working in the states and have been forced to stay at one job for little or no pay because your employer said you owed them for a debt, then you may qualify for a special visa.
Asylum, often referred to as “political asylum,” is the right to be protected by one country when another country is persecuting you. A successful applicant for asylum in the United States must show two things:
A “T Visa” is a special visa for victims of human trafficking who are willing to assist law enforcement in the investigation of the violation. Those granted a T Visa will have T nonimmigrant status for four years and can apply for permanent residence after the first three.
Human trafficking is a type of slavery or indentured servitude, in which someone is promised work but then is not paid, or only paid a small sum, and is told they cannot leave because they still owe a debt to the employer. Because the victims have little or no money, and few friends or family nearby to help them, they are forced to continue to work for the employer. Human trafficking often occurs in agricultural work or in the sex trade, which is more commonly known as ‘sex trafficking.’
Violators of human and sex trafficking laws are strongly pursued by law enforcement. The T Visa was created in 2000 to encourage victims to speak out, so that the employers taking advantage of them will no longer be successful. The process of applying for T Nonimmigrant Status is not complicated, but does require a statement in your own words about how you were mistreated. You may also be asked to assist in a criminal investigation, unless you were under 18 years old at the time of the offense, as minors do not have to participate in the process.
Once you complete an I-914 form, you will be allowed to stay within U.S. borders, and if you receive one of the 5000 T Visas issued by the US government annually, then you may apply for a green card in just 3 years.
Seek Legal Help with Immigration
The laws regarding immigration through asylum or special visas are complex, and are best explained by legal professionals. To learn more about asylum or special visas, or how you can achieve legal status in the United States, contact the DuPage immigration attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC today.
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 35 years of experience helping clients throughout Northern Illinois from five offices in Lombard, Bloomindale, Joliet, St. Charles, and Chicago.
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