Presented by Immigration Services
at Catholic Social Services, Atlanta, GA
Who is in charge of Immigration to the US?
What is a Visa?
What are the basic ways to immigrate to the US?
What if I am arrested by USCIS/ICE/BCPB?
What is relief from removal?
What if I am in removal proceedings?
Quickoverview of what
American Immigration is about.
Generally speaking, “Immigration is the
admission of foreign-born individuals to
reside permanently in the United States as
Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR’s)
through family-sponsored immigration,
employment based immigration, refugee
status, asylum grant, and diversity vissa.
Some key definitions
Alien vs. Immigrant: Legally speaking, an alien is a
foreign-born individual who is not necessarily eligible to
reside in the U.S., whereas an immigrant is also a
foreign-born individual who has been admitted to reside
permanently in the US as a green card holder.
Petitioner: A U.S citizen (USC) or permanent resident
relative who files a petition for an individual to be
granted LPR status through a family or business
Beneficiary: A person on whose behalf a relative or
employer has filed a petition for the individual to
eventually be granted LPR status.
Who is in charge of
Immigration to the U.S. ?
Department of Homeland Security (Which includes
Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)(interior
enforcement and removal), and
Bureau of Customs and Border Patrol (BCBP)(border
enforcement) and the
Department of State (DOS).
Who can help you
with an Immigration
1. An attorney
2. An accredited representative of a non-profit
agency approved by the Justice Dept.
In the USA, Notarios are not lawyers and
have no standing to do legal work, go to court
or give legal advice. They have no training in
immigration law and proceedure. Remember-
What is a Visa?
A visa is a permit to enter the US temporarily or
Temporary stay: visitor, student, entertainer,
diplomat, businessman, etc.
Permanent stay: Visa that leads to LPR status.
Some people enter the country without a visa and
they are referred to as EWI (Entry Without Inspection)
and some others enter the US with a visa, but remain
in the country beyond the term of their visa
(Overstay). For accumulating more than 6 months
or more than one year of illegal time, one
respectively triggers a 3 or 10 year bar from the
B- Visitor for pleasure or business
E- treaty investor
G-Employee of international organization
H- temporary workers
K-Fiances of USC and their children, spouses
of USC’s and their children
N-Parents and children of some special
O-Extraordinary merit and ability
P- Artists,Athletes, performers
Q-International cultural exchange
R- Religious workers
S- witness or informants –”snitch”
T-victims of trafficking
V-special spouse and children of LPRs-
applications filed pre 2000.
What are the basic ways
to immigrate to the US?
1. A petition by a family member
2. A petition by an Employer
3. Diversity Lottery
4. A successful Asylum claim
5. NACARA and HRIFA
6. Extraordinary Remedies
1. Form I-130 establishes the relationship of
petitioner and beneficiary (ie married, parents,
brother-sister) and the petitioner’s ability to file
(LPR or USC)
2. Adjustment of Status (form I-485) or
consular processing considers whether the
beneficiary is the kind of person that should
be allowed to be a resident , any bars to
residence, and the petitioner’s ability to
support the beneficiary.
A Petition by a family member
When petitioner is a USC (United State Citizen):
Approved I-130 to NVC Consular appointment
Petitioner – Beneficiary
245i or visa
One-Step application to adjust
When petitioner is a LPR:
Petitioner – Beneficiary
EWI (Have to go back home)
A Petition by a family
A USC citizen can file for:
His parents, spouse and minor child (no preference). His
children over 21 (1st preference), his married children (3rd
preference), and his brothers and sisters (4th preference).
Once the I-130 is filed for the spouse or child still abroad, the
beneficiary can be granted a “K” visa at the consul and
complete processing in the US.
A LPR can file for:
His spouse and his single children of any age (preference 2a
and 2b). At present, once the spouse or minor child has been
waiting over 3 years on a petiton filed pre-2000, they may
obtain a “V” visa to enter, or if already here, to be legal to work.
Priority Dates for Family Based Immigrant
Visas as of August 2003
Others India Mexico Philippines
1st 01FEB00 01FEB00 15JUL94 22MAR98
2A* 01JUL98 01JUL98 15JAN96 01JUL98
2B 15JAN95 15JAN95 22NOV91 15JAN95
3rd 01MAY97 01MAY97 22MAY94 22MAR88
4th 22SEP91 22MAY90 22SEP91 01MAR81
A petition by an Employer
An employer can file for:
1. Persons with extraordinary merit
2. Professionals with university degrees or a
combination of degrees
3. Experienced or skilled workers whose
talents are in short supply in the US.
4. Churches may file for full-time employees
for temporary or permanent visas if the
persons are employed as “religious
Certain countries of low immigration have
visas available each year through
lottery. There are 50,000 visas and they
are available only until the end of the
fiscal year. Applications are accepted in
October each year using the internet.
Successful Asylum Claim
In general, persons can apply for asylum if:
1. They file within their first year after entry ( or
meet an exception to the rule)
2. Can prove their identity and nationality
3. Can prove past persecution or
4. Can prove a well-founded fear of future
persecution on account of their race, religion,
nationality, political opinion or social group by
the government of their country or a group
that the government cannot control.
Apply for asylum Remain undocumented
BCIS interview Arrest by Immigration
Asylum granted Asylum denied Voluntary Departure
May apply for green Hearing before the Judge
card 1 year after
Request asylum again
Asylum granted Asylum denied
Asylum granted Voluntary departure Be Deported
Refugee vs. Asylee
A refugee is a person outside of the United States
who seeks protection on the ground that he or she
fears persecution in his or her homeland.
A person who has already entered the United
States, and who fears persecution if sent back to
his country, may apply for asylum here. Once
granted asylum, the person is called an “Asylee.”
Like a refugee, an asylum applicant must also
prove that he has a “well-founded fear of
persecution” based on race, religion, membership
in a social group, political opinion, or national origin
1. Juvenile: Children found in the US who are under
the care of the state or juvenile court and cannot be
returned to their home country.
2. VAWA (Violence Against Women Act): Persons
physically abused by their USC/LPR spouse or
parent or who suffered severe emotional abuse as
identified by a licensed counselor.
3. REGISTRY :Persons here without interruption since
4. CANCELLATION:Persons who can show to an
Immigration Judge that they have been here 10
years, are persons of good Character (paid taxes,
paid child support, etc), and can show extraordinary
and unusual hardship to USC or LPR spouse or
5. HRIFA: residence for nationals of Haiti who entered
the US and filed asylum pre 12-31-95
Adjustment of status for Cubans and Nicaraguans
here since 12-1-1995.
Special Rule Cancellation for Salvadorans and
Guatemalans who registered for ABC or filed for
asylum pre 4-1-90 after entering by a date certain.
Residence for some Eastern Europeans who entered
prior to 12-31-90 and filed for asylum pre 12-31-1991.
Obligations of a
Must report change of address within 10
days on form AR-11.
All men 18-26 must register for selective
Must pay income taxes as a resident.
Must be present in the U. S. more than.
outside the U.S.
What is TPS?
Temporary Protected Status is protection for
persons in the US by a certain date from a
country designated by the Attorney General
as suffering temporary problems due to war,
earthquake or other natural disaster.
Unlike Asylum or refugee status, having TPS
does not lead to a green card.
Nations currently listed are: Burundi, El
Salvador, Honduras, Liberia, Montserrat,
Nicaragua, Somalia, and Sudan.
What if I am arrested by
If you are stopped at the airport for not having a
proper visa or entry document, you will be sent back. If
you claim residence or citizenship, you may be held
until that is cleared up.
If you ask for asylum at the airport, you will be
detained until a decision is made or you are ordered
If you are found in the US illegally, you will have a
hearing unless you have been previously deported. If
you re-enter after removal, that is a permanent bar
and may lead to federal charges and jail.
What if I am arrested by
If you have an outstanding removal or deportation
order, it will be enforced and you will be removed
without further hearing unless you move to re-open
the old case for good cause. If the hearing was over 6
month prior, the District Counsel for USCIS/ICE must
If you commit a crime, you will go directly from the
county or state facility to ICE for detention. If your
sentence was for over 5 years, you may be removed
without a hearing. If for shorter period, you will see the
Immigration Judge and may ask for relief.
What is relief from removal?
As the title indicates, relief from removal is a way for –
eligible persons – not to be deported. It is also
Withholding of Removal or Protection under the Torture
Convention is a temporary protection for those who are
prevented from seeking asylum by the seriousness of
Cancellation of removal – for resident and non-residents
who have been here 7-10 years, and can prove
extraordinary and unusual hardship to USC or LPR
212-h waiver for persons married to USC, seeking to
adjust and can show extreme hardship.
212-c waiver for person with certain criminal convictions
received prior to 4/96.
Refugee waiver – for refugee not yet LPRs convicted of
What if I am in removal
Persons may be in removal proceedings for the
following reasons, which are covered by the
“Grounds of Removability” (inadmissibility,
deportability, and excludability) term:
1. Health related Grounds 2. Economic Grounds
3. Criminal Grounds 4. Moral Grounds
5. Violation of BCIS laws or documents
6. Security related Grounds
7. Miscellaneous (such as Unlawful voting, False claim
to US citizenship, International abduction…)
How do I get my citizenship?
One can get its citizenship (naturalize) through:
1. Five (5) consecutive years of
2. If receive residence by marriage to a
USC, the wait before applying is only 3
years if still married.
3. Derivitive citizenship for the child of US
citizens. Automatic citizenship for
children under 18 when parents
Rights and Duties of
Can Register and vote
Can apply for more family members
Will travel on a U.S. passport
Able to serve on a jury
Opportunity to work in higher security
USCIS and other
ucchastings.edu (center for gender and refugee
Hrw.org (human rights watch)
ILRC.org (Immigrant legal resource center)
State.gov (human rights reports.)