Woodward & Avestaei, PLLC


If you have faced persecution in your home country because of your political opinion, race, religion, nationality, or membership in a particular social group, you have the right to request asylum. It is important that you apply for asylum within one year of arriving in the United States. If you are granted asylum, you have the right to bring your spouse and unmarried children under 21 as derivatives. You are also eligible to apply for a green card one year after being granted asylum.

withholding of removal

If you are ineligible for asylum for some reason, such as having applied more than one year after arriving in the U.S. or having first firmly resettled in another country, you may still be eligible for withholding of removal if you can show that there is a clear probability that you would be persecuted in your home country. The only bars that apply to withholding are persecution of others, conviction for a particularly serious crime in the U.S., commission of a serious nonpolitical crime outside the U.S., and terrorism. However, withholding is a lesser status than asylum. You will be given employment authorization, but there is no path to permanent residency. Additionally, you will not be able to petition to bring your family to the U.S., and you will not be given a travel document.

protection under the convention against torture

You have the right to ask for protection pursuant to Article 3 of the Convention Against Torture (CAT) if it is more likely than not that you would be tortured in your home country. None of the usual bars to asylum apply to CAT protection. However, the status offers many fewer benefits. You do not have a path to permanent residency, you cannot petition to bring family members, you cannot travel, and you could theoretically be removed to a third country.

t-visa for victims of human trafficking

If you are or have been a victim of human trafficking, you may be eligible for a T-visa. In order to qualify, you must be willing to cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking, and you must demonstrate that you would suffer an extreme hardship if removed from the United States. If you meet these criteria, you will be allowed to remain in the U.S. You may also petition for your spouse and children as derivatives, as well as your parents and siblings if you are under 21.

u-visa for victims of criminal activity

If you are the victim of a crime that occurred in the United States or that violated U.S. laws, you may qualify for a U-visa. Eligible crimes include:

  • Abduction
  • Abusive sexual contact
  • Blackmail
  • Domestic violence
  • Extortion
  • False imprisonment
  • Female genital mutilation
  • Felonious assault
  • Fraud in foreign labor contracting
  • Hostage
  • Incest
  • Involuntary servitude
  • Kidnapping
  • Manslaughter
  • Murder
  • Obstruction of justice
  • Peonage
  • Perjury
  • Prostitution
  • Rape
  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Slave trade
  • Stalking
  • Torture
  • Trafficking
  • Witness tampering
  • Unlawful criminal restraint
  • Other related crimes

If you have been the victim of one of these crimes, have suffered physically or mentally because of it, have provided information about the crime, and have been helpful to law enforcement, you may be eligible for a U nonimmigrant visa. This will allow you, your spouse, and your children (and if the victim is under 21, their parents and siblings) to remain in the U.S. with employment authorization. After three years and upon meeting certain criteria, this status may be adjusted to lawful permanent residency.

humanitarian parole

For individuals that have attempted to gain entry to the U.S. but have been denied, they may request to be paroled into the United States because of extreme humanitarian circumstances. Requests for humanitarian parole are highly discretionary and rely on the specifics of the case, but they can be a successful last resort when more typical means of obtaining entry have failed.

Deferred action for childhood arrivals

If you came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday, you may be eligible to remain in the U.S. and obtain a work permit under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (also known as DACA or the DREAM Act). In order to be eligible for DACA, there are multiple criteria you must meet:

  • You must have resided in the U.S. from June 15, 2007 to the present
  • You must have been physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012
  • You must have been younger than 31 on June 15, 2012
  • You must have been younger than 16 when you arrived in the U.S.
  • You must be enrolled in school or have received a high school diploma, GED, or honorable discharge from the armed forces
  • You must not have been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors

Special immigrant juvenile status

Children who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by one or both parents may be eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. These children must be under the age of 21 according to federal law; however, many state laws demand that they must be under 18. A predicate order from state family court is required stating that it would not be in the child's interest to return to their country of origin. Then a petition may be filed with USCIS requesting permanent residency in the United States.