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    How to Apply for a Humanitarian Visa

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    If you’re a foreign national with an urgent need to enter or remain in the U.S. due to an emergency, you should consider applying for a humanitarian visa. This immigration option is extremely difficult to qualify for and should be considered a last resort.

    Essentially, you will need to prove that being barred from entry or deported from the U.S. will be a threat to your safety. This is difficult to do, so it’s important that you have legal support from an immigration lawyer throughout the humanitarian visa application process. As you start looking for local attorneys to meet with, you should learn about the humanitarian visa options available to you and how to apply for them.

    Do You Qualify for a Humanitarian Visa?

    Humanitarian visas provide temporary immigration status to foreign nationals seeking protection in the U.S. To get one, you must provide evidence of a specific danger that could threaten your life if you’re not allowed into the U.S. temporarily.

    If you’re not sure if your situation makes you eligible for a humanitarian visa, consider the most common reasons for immigrants to seek emergency entry to the U.S.:

    • To get shelter from a natural disaster or armed conflict
    • To escape domestic violence
    • To get away from human traffickers
    • To testify in a U.S. court case
    • To get necessary medical treatment
    • To visit a sick family member
    • To attend a family member’s funeral

    Whether you need to enter or stay in the U.S. due to one of these issues or have a similarly urgent reason to get temporary immigration status, you should consider applying for a humanitarian visa. An experienced lawyer will let you know if you meet the requirements for this type of visa and can help you apply if you do.

    Which Humanitarian Program Is Right for You?

    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has several humanitarian programs for immigrants who may be in danger due to a variety of issues within their home country or in their current household in the U.S. The most well-known humanitarian programs include:

    • Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
    • Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
    • Humanitarian parole
    • T visa
    • U visa

    You should talk to an immigration lawyer about your situation to determine which humanitarian visa is suitable for you. They can let you know if you’re likely to qualify based on the dangers you face outside the U.S., as well as whether you’re already in this country or need to gain entry.

    Do You Qualify for Temporary Protected Status?

    Some humanitarian programs are meant for immigrants who are already in the U.S. and will be required to return to their home country soon unless they take action. The Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program is one example. This allows you to avoid deportation if you live in the U.S. and your home country isn’t safe due to a natural disaster or political unrest.

    If you qualify for TPS, you can remain in the U.S. and even work while you wait for your country to become safe to return to. To determine if you’re eligible, you first need to make sure your home country has TPS status due to a qualifying risk, such as an ongoing armed conflict or natural disaster.

    To apply, you’ll need proof of your nationality, identity, and residence in the U.S. You’ll also need to show that you’ve continuously lived in the U.S. since your country got its TPS designation and that you’re not a threat to national security. You’ll be expected to file Form I-821 along with your supporting evidence, though you’re encouraged to also file Form I-765 if you want authorization to work in the U.S. during your temporary stay.

    How Do You Apply for VAWA?

    Another option for immigrants already in the U.S. is the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). You may be eligible if you entered the U.S. to live with a spouse, parent, or adult child who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and they’ve since become violent toward you. This program is available to women, men, or children who can prove they have suffered domestic violence from their family member and wish to leave the household without being forced to leave the country through deportation.

    To apply, you must be prepared to prove that you’re the current, future, or former spouse of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who has caused you to suffer battery or extreme cruelty. You might also qualify if you’re the child or parent of an abusive citizen. Once you prove your relationship with the abuser, you must prove that you’re of good moral character and have been living with your abuser in the U.S.

    You must then file Form I-360, making sure to include any proof of the abuse, such as police reports, medical records, and any other evidence your lawyer recommends for your case. If approved, you can get a green card on your own, without relying on your abuser to sponsor you.

    Do You Qualify for Humanitarian Parole?

    Humanitarian parole is available if you’re not in the U.S. but want to enter the country for a temporary stay due to an emergency. For example, if you need to enter the U.S. to get urgent medical treatment, attend a family member’s funeral, participate in a court case, or visit a sick relative, you might qualify for humanitarian parole.

    If you’re already in the U.S. but are facing deportation, applying for this might allow you to stay in the country for a short period, usually one year at most. To apply, you must prove several details, including that you do not qualify for any other visas since humanitarian parole is meant to be used as a last resort.

    The application process should start with completing and filing Form I-131 so you can travel to the U.S. You’ll also need to file Form I-134 to show that you or a sponsor can financially support your trip and your return home. Additionally, you should write a cover letter explaining why you need to get to the U.S., how long you need to stay, and why this is the only way you can get to this country. A skilled immigration attorney can ensure your application has sufficient evidence, so it’s best to hire one for your peace of mind.

    Do You Need a T Visa?

    If you’re only in the U.S. because you’re a victim of human trafficking, and you’re willing to help law enforcement investigate and prosecute the offenders, you can apply for a T visa. This allows you to legally live and work in the U.S. for up to four years, after which you can apply for a green card.

    To qualify, you must prove that you’re a victim of human trafficking brought to the U.S. through force, deception, or misrepresentation. You also must prove that you would suffer extreme hardship if you were deported, and that you will help law enforcement investigate and prosecute the human traffickers responsible for the crime.

    To apply, you must file Form I-194, accompanied by a personal statement describing how you were trafficked and what you endured as a result. You also have to show that you have cooperated with the police investigating the crime, which means you should send supporting documents like witness testimony and police reports. An immigration lawyer will tell you what forms and documents best fulfill your legal needs.

    What Is a U Visa?

    If you were the victim of a serious crime in the U.S. and you’re willing to help law enforcement with the prosecution of the suspect, you can apply for a U visa. This lets you and your immediate family stay in the U.S. for four years and eventually apply for green cards.

    Not all crimes will qualify you for a U visa, as only specific crimes that result in severe mental or physical trauma can. Some examples include domestic violence, kidnapping, sexual assault, rape, torture, stalking, and prostitution. To apply, you must file Form I-918 and include supporting details about the crime, where it took place, and how you have helped law enforcement with the investigation.

    The U.S. has several types of humanitarian visas available to foreign nationals who cannot use traditional immigration methods to get here during emergencies. It can be difficult to determine which one is right for you, especially when you’re worried about your safety outside of the U.S. This is why you should leave these details to legal professionals, such as Elizabeth Rosario Law, PLC. Our immigration lawyers have assisted numerous clients with gaining entry and remaining in the U.S. to avoid dangerous situations, and you can count on us to do the same for you. Call us at 616-229-3401 to learn more about humanitarian visas.

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