Claudia Slovinsky

Introduction to Humanitarian-Based Applications

Each year many people are forced to leave their home countries because of natural disasters, war, torture, and other forms of violence. Foreign nationals sometimes find themselves in abusive relationships or they are victims of human trafficking, or crimes such as assault, domestic violence, extortion, or blackmail. U.S. Immigration law affords relief to applicants fleeing persecution, domestic violence, and human trafficking. People who have been victims of certain crimes or children who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected may also be eligible for immigration relief. Additionally, people who need to temporarily enter the U.S. for emergent reasons such as attending a funeral, obtaining necessary medical treatment, or to serve as a witness in a criminal matter, may be eligible for humanitarian parole.

Claudia Slovinsky and Associates, PLLC provides legal representation for all types of humanitarian based applications, including asylum cases, matters arising under the Violence against Women Act (VAWA), the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (T Visa), applications for U non-immigrant status (U Visa), the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA), Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS).

Asylum, Withholding of Removal and Convention Against Torture

If you are afraid of returning to your country because of your race, religion, nationality, political belief or action, or your membership in a social group that suffers persecution in your country, you may be eligible to apply for asylum, withholding of removal or relief under the Convention against Torture (CAT). Harms such as physical and sexual assault, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, domestic violence, severe forms of discrimination, and coercive population control, may qualify as persecution and lead to protection under U.S. law. Our office will carefully review the facts in your case and help you determine if you are eligible. If granted, these forms of relief may enable you and your family members to live and work in the U.S., and in the case of asylum, may even lead to a green card.

You may be able to file an affirmative application for asylum with a USCIS office, or you may able to request asylum defensively if you are already in removal proceedings. It is important to note that the law has a deadline of one year from entry for applying for asylum, or if a person entered in a legal status, within a reasonable time after that status expires; however, this deadline may be waived in some extreme circumstances. If you were previously denied relief in removal proceedings and have an outstanding order of removal, under certain circumstances you may be able to request that your case be reopened to allow you to apply for asylum, withholding or protection under the Convention against Torture (CAT).

Claudia Slovinsky and Associates, PLLC, has successfully handled many asylum, withholding and CAT applications in all stages, from affirmative applications for asylum before USCIS, to appeals and motions to reopen due to changed circumstances or country conditions. We have worked on a wide range of asylum claims, including those based on sexual orientation, female genital mutilation, domestic violence, religion, political opinion, and ethnic and race-based persecution.

We also have the expertise to handle cases that are more complex and difficult - whether they involve a failure to satisfy the statutory one-year deadline for filing asylum applications, criminal convictions, allegations that the asylum seeker previously engaged in acts of persecution themselves - or where the persecution is more subtle and less easily demonstrated. We also help our clients and their family members apply for residency after successful asylum applications.

Claims under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

If you or a family member are or have been the victim of domestic violence committed by a U.S. citizen or a green card holder, you may be eligible for protection under the Violence against Women Act (VAWA), which allows certain non-citizen victims of abuse to apply for legal status on their own without the participation of the abuser. Protections under VAWA can take various forms, including allowing certain non-citizens to "self-petition" for legal permanent residence, seek a waiver of the joint filing requirement for lifting the conditions on their legal permanent residence, or apply for VAWA Cancellation of Removal if you are in removal proceedings. If granted, each of these forms of relief can lead to permanent legal status in the U.S. Note that VAWA protections are not just limited to women - abused people of any gender may apply as long as they meet the eligibility requirements.

Claims under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (T Visa)

If you or a family member have been the victim of labor exploitation or sexual exploitation, including forced pornography or prostitution, you and your immediate family members may be eligible for protection and legal status under the T non-immigrant visa part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act. T status may lead to a grant of a green card in certain situations.

U Non-immigrant Status

If you or your family member have been a victim of a domestic violence crime or other type of serious crime and have assisted or are assisting law enforcement in investigating and/or prosecuting the crime, you may be eligible to obtain U nonimmigrant status. You can apply for this form of relief directly with USCIS, even if you are in removal, exclusion or deportation proceedings, or if you are subject to a final order of removal. Further, you may be eligible for a U visa regardless of the immigration status of the abuser or perpetrator of the crime, and even if you have no familial or other relationship to the abuser or perpetrator. U visa status may lead to a grant of a green card in certain situations.

Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

If you are a resident or national of a country that has been designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security for Temporary Protected Status due to conditions in the country, such as a civil war, an environmental catastrophe, a disease epidemic, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions that prevent the country's nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately, you may be eligible for TPS if you are already in the U.S. For a list of eligible countries, click here. If your TPS application is approved, or if you are found to be preliminarily eligible for TPS, you can obtain an Employment Authorization Card, which allows you to work legally in the U.S. TPS recipients can also be granted authorization to travel abroad and return to the U.S.

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)

SIJS is a form of immigration relief that is available to undocumented immigrant children and youth who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected, and who can no longer be united with one or both of their parents. If approved, SIJS can lead to legal permanent resident status, which allows an applicant to live and work permanently in the U.S.

Applications for Prosecutorial Discretion

Prosecutorial discretion in the immigration context refers to the discretion or leeway that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has in deciding how to allocate resources in the prosecution of non-citizens and applies to a wide variety of circumstances. Unfortunately, it is not an immigration status that can lead to a green card. While the principle of prosecutorial discretion in immigration law is not new, the Department of Homeland Security's enforcement priorities are always subject to change.

Prosecutorial discretion may be exercised at any stage of an immigration case. Specifically, prosecutorial discretion may be exercised when the government is deciding whether to detain or release a non-citizen on bond, supervision, or personal recognizance; whether to initiate, settle or dismiss removal proceedings, terminate or administratively close an ongoing removal proceeding; agree to reopen a previously concluded case; stay or execute a final order of removal; grant deferred action; or pursue an appeal. In certain circumstances, such as upon a grant of deferred action, an applicant may also be able to apply for an Employment Authorization Document.

There are many factors that DHS can take into consideration in determining whether to exercise prosecutorial discretion, including the person's criminal and immigration history, if any; the person's pursuit of education in the U.S.; the circumstances of the person's arrival in the U.S.; the person's length of presence in the U.S.; whether the person or any immediate relative has served in the armed forces; the person's ties and contributions to the community; whether the person has a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, child, or parent; the person's age; the person's ties to his or her home country; and whether the person is likely to be ultimately granted some sort of temporary or permanent relief from removal.

At Claudia Slovinsky and Associates, PLLC, we have demonstrated success in securing prosecutorial discretion on behalf of our clients in various complex situations, including in persuading the government to join a motion to reopen, to terminate or administratively close proceedings, to release a detained non citizen, and to grant deferred action. We will help you explore whether you might benefit from a request for prosecutorial discretion and if so, develop the most compelling application possible.