Immigration Benefits and Relief

The enforcement of immigration laws is a complex and hotly-debated topic. Learn more about the costs of immigration enforcement and the ways in which the U.S. can enforce our immigration laws humanely and in a manner that ensures due process.

Recent Features

All Immigration Benefits and Relief Content

Publication Date: 
March 16, 2021
This fact sheet provides an overview of the most recent version of the Dream Act and similar legislative proposals.
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June 28, 2016
This fact sheet provides an overview of the lawsuits that have challenged expanded DACA and DAPA. It explains the legal claims, the court decisions, and the process.
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April 11, 2016
This guide provides brief answers to common questions about United States v. Texas, including what is at stake in the case, how the litigation began, what the contested issues are, and the impact the...
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February 1, 2016
DACA has helped its beneficiaries find employment and increase their earnings. But, even with better jobs, not all DACA beneficiaries in our study were able to afford tuition at four-year...
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August 26, 2014
The President has the legal authority to make a significant number of unauthorized migrants eligible for temporary relief from deportation that would be similar to the relief available under the...
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June 16, 2014
This week marks the two-year anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program, first initiated by President Obama on June 15, 2012. This research brief presents current...
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August 15, 2013

As Congress continues to debate immigration reform, August 15th marks the one-year anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)...

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June 19, 2013
One of the themes that emerged from the Senate Judiciary Committee mark up of the 2013 Senate immigration bill was the necessity of avoiding the mistakes of the past. In the context of legalization...
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April 29, 2013
Today in the United States, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Americans who fall in love with and marry foreign nationals are being asked to choose between country and spouse, country...
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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.
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February 19, 2018
In the case, Attorney General Jeff Sessions referred to himself questions related to administrative closure. This move by Sessions could signal an attempt to end administrative closure altogether—which could force over 350,000 immigrants back into immigration court, exacerbating the challenges of an already overburdened immigration court system.
Publication Date: 
March 31, 2017
The Council, with the American Immigration Lawyers Association, filed this amicus brief arguing that a grant of TPS satisfies the “admission” requirement for adjustment of status under INA § 245(a) and that, as a result, an individual who entered without inspection and later received a grant of TPS has been “admitted” and may adjust to lawful permanent resident status if otherwise eligible.
Publication Date: 
October 19, 2016
The Council, along with amici the University of Houston Law Center, AILA, and others, submitted a brief in response to a request from the Board of Immigration Appeals, arguing that lawful permanent residents who were initially admitted to the United States after being waved through a port of entry were eligible for cancellation of removal on the grounds that they had been “admitted in any status,” a requirement of the cancellation statute.
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March 7, 2016
The American Immigration Council, in collaboration with the National Immigration Law Center, the Service Employees International Union, the Advancement Project, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, filed an amicus brief on behalf of 320 other immigrants’ rights, civil rights, labor and social service organizations, urging the Supreme Court to lift the injunction that blocked the deferred action initiatives that President Obama announced in November 2014. In the brief, the groups outline how families and communities would benefit from the initiatives. The brief also provides examples of parents and individuals who would be able to contribute more fully to their communities if the immigration initiatives were allowed to take effect. The oral argument is scheduled for April 18, 2016.
Publication Date: 
November 4, 2015
INA § 203(h)(3) provides alternate benefits - specifically, retention of the original priority date and automatic conversion of the petition - for beneficiaries who are found to have "aged out" under the age preservation formula of the CSPA. The Council opposed the BIA’s restrictive interpretation of this provision in In amicus curiae briefs filed with several Courts of Appeals and the Supreme Court, arguing that it should be found to apply to a larger universe of aged-out children. Ultimately, the Supreme Court upheld the BIA’s interpretation.
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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.
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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.
Publication Date: 
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.
Publication Date: 
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).
Publication Date: 
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.
Publication Date: 
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.
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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.
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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.
Publication Date: 
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.
Publication Date: 
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 27, 2023

The Departments of State and Homeland Security announced recently that the Central American Minors (CAM) Program is being expanded, which will allow more children from El Salvador, Honduras, and...

April 5, 2023

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is opening a new service center to try to fix some of its most egregious backlogs. The agency reportedly has already reassigned 150 employees –...

March 10, 2023

Undocumented students, like millions of other students in the United States, have the ambition to succeed. College opportunities are often priceless for these students. And though a degree can...

February 23, 2023

A recent policy change by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) should reduce the number of children who age out of green card eligibility. For immigration purposes, a “child” means...

January 26, 2023

Many families in the United States live in a frightening limbo when processing delays prevent one family member from becoming a lawful permanent resident.  A lawsuit was recently filed against U.S...

January 17, 2023

On January 3, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) finally published a new proposed fee schedule for immigration benefits—which is to say, it took an important step to becoming a...

November 1, 2022

While it seems like all eyes are on the states that could determine the outcome of this year’s midterm elections, it’s important to remember that the consequences of November 8 will extend beyond...

October 20, 2022

After months of waiting for decisions on the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, hundreds of thousands of undocumented youth are back to where they started—waiting...

October 11, 2022

On September 28, Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA) introduced a bill in Congress that would allow millions of immigrants who have lived in the United States for many years to become Lawful Permanent...

October 7, 2022

Written by Jorge Loweree and Raul Pinto of the American Immigration Council More than a decade after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) first created the Deferred Action for Childhood...

January 19, 2022
President Biden announced a welcoming and inclusive vision for immigration in a legislative proposal and a series of executive actions signed on his first day in office. But one year into Biden’s presidency, his promises on immigration remain unfulfilled.
July 16, 2021
U.S. Judge Andrew Hanen of the Southern District of Texas ordered the Biden administration to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
April 16, 2020
The American Immigration Council, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and the law firms Van Der Hout, LLP, Joseph & Hall P.C., and Kuck Baxter Immigration LLC filed a nationwide class action lawsuit today challenging U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ pattern and practice of arbitrarily denying H-1B nonimmigrant employment-based petitions for market research analysts positions filed by businesses in the United States.
October 15, 2019
A federal court in San Francisco certified two nationwide classes of immigrants and attorneys claiming that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have a systemic pattern and practice of failing to provide access to immigration case records within deadlines set by the Freedom of Information Act. The case records, known as A-files, contain information about individuals’ immigration history in the United States. This is the first time a court has certified a class in a lawsuit alleging a pattern and practice of violating FOIA
June 23, 2016

Washington D.C. - Today, the Supreme Court issued a 4-4 decision in United States v.

April 18, 2016

Washington D.C. - Today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in United States v. Texas.

June 10, 2015

Washington D.C.– Last Friday, three immigrants and two immigration service providers filed a nationwide class action lawsuit against U.S.

May 26, 2015

Washington D.C. - In a disappointing decision, a divided panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals today  denied  the federal government’s request for an emergency stay of a preliminary in

March 15, 2024

On March 8, a federal district court in Texas dismissed a challenge to a parole program set up by the Biden administration to allow 30,000 Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans to enter...

March 7, 2024

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in early 2022, the U.S. has provided certain Ukrainians with temporary authorization, or parole, to remain in the country. However, multiple agencies, including...

Publication Date: 
March 7, 2024
The American Immigration Council appeared before Congress to discuss the need for Congress to overhaul the asylum system.
February 5, 2024
On Sunday night, a bipartisan group of senators released the “Emergency National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2024." Jeremy Robbins, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council, responds to this controversial legislation that faces an uncertain future.
December 15, 2023

Families are complicated. Especially during the holidays, that’s something we can all agree on. But most of us can’t – or will never have to – imagine being forcibly separated from our closest...

November 16, 2023
The American Immigration Council and over 100 business organizations, including chambers of commerce and trade associations, want Congress to remove the present obstacle to asylum applicants acquiring work permits swiftly.
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October 31, 2023
An overview of the Biden administration's parole programs for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans (CHNV), which admit up to 30,000 people per month with the ability to live and work in the...
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October 20, 2023
This practice advisory by the Council and partners provides an overview of the Niz-Chavez v. Garland decision and its impact on eligibility for cancellation of removal; eligibility for post-conclusion voluntary departure and broader applications of the decision.
September 29, 2023

On September 20, 2023, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced measures to accelerate the processing of some work permits and to extend their validity period for particular categories...

Publication Date: 
September 20, 2023
The American Immigration Council appeared before Congress to address the economic contributions of immigrants in the U.S. and the American economic system.

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