Immigration Benefits and Relief

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August 17, 2012
Here's what you need to know about the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) initiative, including eligibility requirements and important information on process and timing.
June 22, 2012
There are an estimated 1.4 million children and young adults in the United States who might benefit from President Obama’s...
May 14, 2012
How Gaps in ICE's Prosecutorial Discretion Policy Affect Immigrants Without Legal Representation While the Obama administration’s has expanded use of prosecutorial discretion in immigration cases,...
April 11, 2012
Discretion takes many forms throughout the immigration enforcement process. Every removal of a noncitizen from the United States, for example, reflects a series of complex choices which reflect...
December 15, 2011
Immigration law is highly complex. Determining which non-citizens are “lawfully” or “unlawfully” present and whether they should be allowed to stay in the United States are complex matters which...
July 20, 2011
On June 17, 2011, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton issued two significant memoranda on the use of prosecutorial discretion in immigration matters. Prosecutorial...
December 2, 2010
Each year, tens of thousands of undocumented immigrant students graduate from American high schools and embark on uncertain futures. Their inability to legally work and receive financial aid stalls...
December 1, 2010
On June 30, 2010, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), John Morton, issued a memo to the agency that reflected the Obama administration’s oft repeated intent...
Faced with increasing reports from immigration lawyers of Employment Authorization Documents adjudication delays, the Council and several partners filed this lawsuit against USCIS and DHS.
April 6, 2015
The American Immigration Council and its partners, the National Immigration Law Center and the Service Employees International Union, filed an amicus brief arguing that the Texas federal district court order blocking expanded DACA and DAPA should be reversed. The brief, filed on behalf of more than 150 civil rights, labor, and immigration advocacy groups, argues that these deferred action initiatives will have significant and widespread benefits on the U.S. economy, individual immigrants, their families, and their communities. The brief also includes examples of the government’s exercise of its discretion to deny requests under the initial DACA program to refute the district court’s conclusion that such cases are not adjudicated on a case-by-case basis.
December 29, 2014
The American Immigration Council and its partners, the National Immigration Law Center and the Service Employees International Union, in collaboration with other immigration, civil rights and labor groups, joined the legal effort to defend the deferred action initiatives President Obama announced on November 20, 2014. The amicus brief, which was written in support of the federal government, provides powerful economic, fiscal and societal reasons to permit the implementation of these programs.
August 18, 2014
A waiver of removal under INA § 212(h) is not available to an individual who committed an aggravated felony within five years of having previously been "admitted" to the United States as a lawful permanent resident. The Council, with AILA, filed amicus briefs in numerous Courts of Appeals, successfully arguing that the § 212(h) bar to waiver eligibility applies only to noncitizens who were admitted in LPR status at a port of entry, as distinct from those who adjusted to LPR status post-entry.
October 3, 2013
One requirement of the age-preservation formula of the CSPA is that the beneficiary must have “sought to acquire” lawful permanent resident status within one year of the visa becoming available. INA § 203(h)(1). The Council’s amicus brief argued for a more expansive interpretation of “sought to acquire” than the BIA’s interpretation in Matter of O. Vasquez, 25 I&N Dec. 817 (BIA 2012). On July 23, 2014, the court issued a decision upholding the Board’s interpretation but remanding the case after finding that, under the facts presented, the retroactive application of Matter of O. Vasquez to the petitioner would work a manifest injustice. Velasquez-Garcia v. Holder, 760 F.3d 571 (7th Cir. 2014).
September 3, 2008
Following DHS's adoption of an interim regulation that gave USCIS jurisdiction over the adjustment application of an "arriving alien" in removal proceedings, the Council filed amicus briefs with the BIA and Federal Courts challenging the BIA's general refusal to reopen removal proceedings so that an "arriving alien" with an unexecuted final order could adjust with USCIS. The BIA rejected our arguments in Matter of Yauri, 25 I&N Dec. 103 (BIA 2009). Meanwhile, however, USCIS made clear that it retained jurisdiction over these cases despite the final order.
February 24, 2005
The Council filed amicus briefs in numerous courts of appeals challenging the pre-2005 regulatory bar to adjustment of status for “arriving aliens” in removal proceedings. Several courts accepted our arguments that the regulation violated the adjustment of status statute. Succar v. Ashcroft, 394 F.3d 8 (1st Cir. 2005); Zheng v. Gonzales, 422 F.3d 98 (3d Cir. 2005); Bona v. Ashcroft, 425 F.3d 663 (9th Cir. 2005). Ultimately, DHS withdrew the challenged regulation and replaced it with one providing USCIS with jurisdiction to adjust the status of an "arriving alien" in removal proceedings. 71 Fed. Reg. 27585 (2006). The amicus brief filed in Bona v. Ashcroft is representative of the briefs filed in other circuits.
This memorandum, which was released by the American Immigration Council and co-signed by two general counsels of the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, offers an overview of the scope of executive branch authority and outlines specific steps the Administration could take to forestall removals in sympathetic cases.
The American Immigration Council, in collaboration with the National Immigration Law Center, the Service Employees International Union, American Federal of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, Advancement Project, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, among others, filed an amicus brief on behalf of a coalition of 224 immigration, civil rights, labor and social service groups, urging the Supreme Court to review the case that has blocked expanded DACA and DAPA.

This letter requests written guidance setting forth detailed criteria for the favorable exercise of prosecutorial discretion and the assignment of a high-level officer to monitor implementation of...

November 20, 2013

This Practice Advisory discusses the "departure bar" to motions to reopen and arguments adopted by circuit courts that have rejected or upheld the bar.

October 23, 2013
Section 336(b) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. § 1447(b), gives a district court jurisdiction to intervene in a case where USCIS has failed to make a decision on the naturalization application within 120 days of the applicant’s “examination” by USCIS. This Practice Advisory discusses the nuts and bolts of bringing a suit under INA § 336(b). It also discusses when attorneys fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act are available.
August 5, 2013
On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in United States v. Windsor, holding that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. This practice advisory highlights some of the issues LGBT families will face in a post-DOMA world.
May 2, 2013
In Moncrieffe, the Supreme Court held that a state drug conviction is not an aggravated felony when the statute of conviction extends to the social sharing of a small amount of marijuana. This Practice Advisory discusses the holding of the case, the decision’s potential broader implications, strategies for noncitizen criminal defendants, and steps that lawyers should take immediately in pending or already concluded removal proceedings affected by Moncrieffe.
December 21, 2012
This Practice Advisory contains practical and legal suggestions for individuals seeking to return to the United States after they have prevailed on a petition for review or an administrative motion to reopen or reconsider to the immigration court or Board of Immigration Appeals.
December 16, 2011
This Practice Advisory describes the Supreme Court’s decision in Judulang v. Holder, which rejected the BIA's "comparable grounds" test for § 212(c) relief, and offers strategies for lawful permanent residents and others who may be affected by it.
March 31, 2010
There are two main situations where individuals who were ordered removed or deported in absentia can reopen their cases: (1) they did not receive notice of the hearing, and (2) they did not appear at their hearing because of exceptional circumstances. This Practice Advisory addresses the elements and requirements for an in absentia motion to reopen in both contexts.
December 26, 2008

This Q&A informs lawyers about some of the most important aspects of the December 18, 2008 voluntary departure rules adopted by Executive Office for Immigration Review.

April 20, 2005
This Practice Advisory addresses situations in which a court might excuse a late-filed petition for review and discusses other administrative and federal court options for remedying the failure to timely file a petition for review. The Advisory also provides an overview of 28 U.S.C. § 1631, which authorizes courts to transfer a case to cure a lack of jurisdiction when an action is filed in the wrong federal court.
April 6, 2005
On April 1, 2005, EOIR’s Background and Security Check regulations went into effect. The interim rule bars IJs and the BIA from granting most forms of relief until DHS has informed them that security checks are completed. This Practice Advisory provides basic information about the requirements and procedures under the interim rule and highlights the major changes to BIA procedures.
July 7, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge across the United States, many universities have chosen to temporarily move to online-only classes to protect public health. However, new guidance from...

June 24, 2020

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will finalize a new regulation on June 26 which will strip most asylum seekers of the right to seek work authorization. The rule imposes sweeping new...

June 18, 2020

The Supreme Court issued its long-anticipated decision in DHS v. Regents of the University of California—the case challenging the administration’s attempt to dismantle the Deferred Action for...

June 15, 2020

My name is Sonia Martinez. I am a Certified Nursing Assistant working to help treat patients with COVID-19 at University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, Colorado. I am also one of the 650,000...

May 14, 2020

The coronavirus has disrupted all our lives. Native-born Americans and noncitizens across the United States are experiencing many of the same challenges—the disruptions to day-to-day life, the...

April 24, 2020

In a 5-4 decision on April 23, the U.S. Supreme Court expanded the types of criminal offenses that bar green card holders from seeking a form of relief from deportation. The case, Barton v. Barr,...

March 25, 2020

The coronavirus outbreak has significantly disrupted the operations of government agencies around the country, including U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS is the agency that...

February 12, 2020

A federal district court stopped U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) from drastically changing how the agency determines when a foreign student or exchange visitor is “unlawfully...

January 22, 2020

Iranian students coming to the United States are being stopped at airports, having their visas revoked, and are being deported. Advocates warn this trend is emerging less than a month after...

January 2, 2020

The defense spending package for the fiscal year 2020 will allow thousands of Liberians living in the United States to gain green cards. The $738-billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)...

February 17, 2015

Washington D.C. - Late last night, a Texas judge issued a preliminary injunction that temporarily blocks the implementation of President Obama’s new deferred action initiatives. These initia

November 21, 2014

Washington D.C. - Ben Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council offers the following quotes on the polic

November 6, 2014

Washington D.C. – From the perspective of immigration reformers, Tuesday’s election is unlikely to change the gridlock that has stymied immigration reform for more than 15 years.

July 29, 2014

Last week, the federal district court issued its final approval of a settlement agreement

July 20, 2014

Washington D.C. - After decades of congressional neglect, tonight President Obama took a crucial and courageous step toward reforming our immigration system.

May 22, 2014

On May 19, 2014, the American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) filed an amicus curiae brief urging the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit to

March 13, 2014

Last week, the American Immigration Council and Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) filed an amicus curiae brief urging the court to find that noncitizens granted Temporary Protect

August 27, 2020
This fact sheet provides an overview of the Dream Act and other similar legislative proposals, explains changes made to DACA on March 13, 2019, and provides information about policies at the state...
August 26, 2020

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) told Congress in May that it was running out of money and would need a $1.2 billion bailout to maintain its operations without major disruptions....

July 29, 2020

The American Immigration Council submitted a written statement to the House Committee on Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship for a July 29, 2020 hearing on "Oversight of U....

July 28, 2020

After nearly six weeks of inaction following its stinging defeat before the Supreme Court on June 18, the Department of Homeland Security released a memo gutting the Deferred Action for Childhood...

July 21, 2020

The Trump administration has justified major changes to citizenship processing to “safeguard” the U.S. immigration system from application fraud. Yet the increased vetting has not lowered the...

July 15, 2020

Update: On August 3, 2020, a federal court in Ohio granted a temporary restraining order requiring USCIS to print a work permit within 7 days for all individuals who had been approved for one. The...

July 7, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge across the United States, many universities have chosen to temporarily move to online-only classes to protect public health. However, new guidance from...

June 24, 2020

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will finalize a new regulation on June 26 which will strip most asylum seekers of the right to seek work authorization. The rule imposes sweeping new...

June 18, 2020

The Supreme Court issued its long-anticipated decision in DHS v. Regents of the University of California—the case challenging the administration’s attempt to dismantle the Deferred Action for...

June 15, 2020

My name is Sonia Martinez. I am a Certified Nursing Assistant working to help treat patients with COVID-19 at University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, Colorado. I am also one of the 650,000...

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