Immigration Relief – Acquisition or Derivation of U.S. Citizenship: If the answer to any question is yes, you could be a U.S. citizen or national:
- Were you born in the United States or its territories? or;
- At time of your birth abroad, did you have a U.S. citizen parent or grandparent? or,
- Before the age of 18, in either order: did you become a legal permanent resident (green card holder), and did one of your parents naturalize to U.S. citizenship? Or, were you adopted by a U.S. citizen before the age of 16 and became an legal permanent resident (green card holder) before the age 18?
If your parent, spouse, child or sibling is a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident (green card holder), he or she could petition for you. When this petition is approved, if you are in status (or you were inspected and admitted and it’s an immediate category) you may be able to file for adjustment of status and get your green card without leaving the U.S.
As an alternative you may leave the U.S. and get your permanent residence through consular processing (applying and obtaining an immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy).
If you were harmed in or you fear that you will be harmed upon return to your home country (persecution) you might be eligible for asylum or withholding of removal (or relief under Convention Against Torture if you fear torture). Persecution must be based on five protected grounds: Race, Religion, Nationality, Political Opinion or Membership in a Particular Social Group.
Cancellation of Removal for Non-Permanent Residents
If you are in removal proceedings and meeting the following criteria you may qualify for cancellation of removal:
- You have been physically present in the United States continuously for at least ten years;
- You had good moral character for ten years;
- You have not been convicted of certain offenses [crimes listed in INA sections 212(a)(2), 237(a)(2), or 237(a)(3)];
- Your deportation cause exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to your green card holder or U.S. citizen spouse, child, or parent.
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VAWA, U and T visas
VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) enables you to self petition if you’ve been abused (or subjected to extreme cruelty) by your U.S. citizen spouse or parent. The U visa is awarded to victims of crime who cooperate with the law enforcement for the prosecution of such crime. The T visa is awarded to victims of trafficking. Under federal law, a “severe form of trafficking” is:
Sex trafficking: When someone recruits, harbors, transports, provides, solicits, patronizes, or obtains a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act, where the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or the person being induced to perform such act is under 18 years of age; or
Labor trafficking: When someone recruits, harbors, transports, provides, or obtains a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)
Special immigrant juvenile status (SIJS), is a pathway to a green card for immigrant children who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by one or both of their parents.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
Non-citizens from certain countries that have experienced a devastating natural disaster, civil war or other unstable circumstances may be able to obtain Temporary Protected Status (TPS). See https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/temporary-protected-status for list of countries and requirements. There a certain bars, including any two misdemeanors or one felony.
You may be eligible if you are (a) from the former Soviet bloc, El Salvador, Guatemala, or Haiti; and (b) applied for asylum or similar relief in the 1990’s or you are a dependent of such a person.