What Do I Do When My Status Expires?
Many people come to the United States with some form of immigration status or another. But at some point, that status expires. What can you do to remain in the U.S. permanent? Below are some possible options:
- Adjustment of status to that of a Permanent Residence as an Immediate Relative of a U.S. citizen.
- Seeking asylum and/or withholding of removal.
- Petitioning for U visa.
- Application for cancellation of removal.
- T Visa for victims of human trafficking.
Adjustment of status to that of a Permanent Residence as an Immediate Relative of a U.S. citizen.
You are an immediate relative of a U.S citizen if your spouse is a U.S. citizen; if one or both of your parents are U.S. citizens and you are unmarried, and under 21 years of age; or if at least one of your children who is 21 years of age or older is a U.S. citizen.
As an Immediate Relative of a U.S. citizen, your U.S. citizen family member can petition for a green card for you. The whole process takes approximately a year, but you receive your work authorization, at no extra cost, about five months after your application.
Seeking asylum and/or withholding of removal
If you have suffered persecution or fear that you will suffer persecution because of your race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group you can ask for asylum in the U.S.
Particular social group means an identified group of people that share common characteristics. Some examples include homosexuals, child soldiers, members or former members of the police or military.
If you apply for asylum, you can include your spouse and your unmarried children who are younger than 21 years old in your application as well. If your asylum application is granted, you will receive a green card.
Petitioning for U visa
The U visa is designated for victims of certain crimes who have suffered physical or even mental abuse and are helpful to police or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity. There is no filing fee to apply for U visa, and you can apply for a green card if you maintain your U visa for three years and continuously live in the U.S. during those three years.
You are eligible for a U nonimmigrant visa if you meet the following three conditions.
- You are the victim of a Qualifying Criminal Activity (look at the list below);
- As the victim, you have suffered physical or even mental harm;
- You have information about criminal activity, and you are willing to help the police or government officials.
A Qualifying Criminal Activity can be one of the following crimes if it occurred in the United States or violated U.S. laws:
- Abusive Sexual Contact
- Sexual Exploitation
- False Imprisonment
- Fraud in Foreign Labor Contracting
- Obstruction of Justice
- Domestic Violence
- Slave Trade
- Witness Tampering
- Felonious Assault
- Sexual Assault
- Unlawful Criminal Restraint
- Involuntary Servitude
If you are not sure whether you were a victim of one of the crimes listed above, consult with an attorney.
Application for cancelation of removal
Cancellation of removal is a relief available for some immigrants who are in removal proceedings. If none of the three options discussed above apply to you, and ICE is attempting to remove you (i.e., deport you), you can ask the immigration judge to cancel your removal if you meet all of the following conditions:
1. You have been physically present in the United States continuously for at least ten years prior to your application for cancelation of removal;
2. You have been a person of good moral character;
3. You have not been convicted of certain crimes, and
4. Your deportation/removal would result in extreme hardship to your spouse, parent, or child, who is a citizen of the United States or a green cardholder.
Cancellation of removal is a discretionary relief, meaning that the immigration judge is not required to cancel your deportation, but must be persuaded to do so. Cancelation of removal is a complicated process, and it is wise if you hire an immigration attorney to represent you for this application. If the immigration judge grants your application, you will receive a green card.
Victims of Human Trafficking: T Nonimmigrant Status
T nonimmigrant status is a temporary immigration benefit that enables certain victims of a severe form of human trafficking to remain in the United States for up to 4 years if they have assisted law enforcement in an investigation or prosecution of human trafficking. T nonimmigrant status is also available for certain qualifying family members of trafficking victims. T nonimmigrants are eligible for employment authorization and certain federal and state benefits and services. T nonimmigrants who qualify may also be able to adjust their status and become lawful permanent residents (obtain a Green Card).
Please Contact Martin Law away if you think you may be eligible for one of the above-categories of immigration status.