Asylum, Refugee and Other Humanitarian Relief

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CARA Assists Families Targeted in May Enforcement Actions and Thwarts New Family Detention Efforts

In late May- early June, the CARA Pro Bono Project assisted 21 families who were picked up by DHS in the latest round of enforcement actions targeting Central American women the children. The stories of the 21 families and the due process obstacles they have encountered were captured in a report produced by the CARA project. The report documents inappropriate enforcement conduct and due process concerns that the families endured. Since the publication of the report, several families have been released and no new families have been identified by CARA at the family detention facilities.

Despite constant pressure from advocates, DHS continues to double down on its support of family detention. This effort includes searching for new prospective family detention facility locations in Texas. Two recent efforts by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to reach an agreement for a new family detention facility have been stymied in part by the assistance of the local community and by the dioceses of Corpus Christi and Laredo. In both public hearings, the Bishops’ statements along with critiques by community leaders, lead to local government leaders voting to not move forward with plans for the facilities.

As DHS continues to look for new communities to detain immigrant families, we urge you to contact us if you hear any information about your community engaging DHS to do so.


One year of CARA Pro Bono Project, thousands helped

“Women have suffered through so much but still smile. If you show them love, they show it back.”

Volunteer, CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project


Spring 2016 marked the one-year anniversary of the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project with some impressive data to add a bit of hope to the still steady flow of immigrants across the border.

The project’s one-year statistics paint a powerful picture of the work being done by volunteers and the limited formal staff at CARA.

As the U.S. enters its third summer in which unusually high numbers of Central American families are crossing the border in search of safety, here are some stats that show how CARA has made a difference:

  • More than 8,000 families received help from a CARA volunteer attorney in starting the process of seeking asylum.
  • Of the families seen by CARA volunteers at the South Texas Family Detention Center at Dilley, Texas, 99 percent were released to their loved ones, while their cases work through the asylum process.
  • More than 700 lawyers, paralegals, translators, clergy, teachers, nurses and social workers volunteered their time at Dilley.

The project was born in response to a growing humanitarian crisis that erupted in 2014.

Amid a dramatic increase in the number of women and children arriving at the border from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala in 2014, Immigration and Customs Enforcement began putting families into detention centers located far from their U.S.-based families and far from towns where they might find lawyers to help.

In a little more than a year, hundreds of volunteers – attorneys, translators, teachers, social workers, medical professionals and others – have helped thousands of families begin the process of seeking asylum. The CARA staff and volunteers have also formally challenged the conditions at the detention centers, from inadequate medical care to coercion and lack of appropriate language services.

In addition, CARA staff and volunteers taught thousands of women about their legal rights and obligations, empowering them to advocate on their own behalf. In collaboration with the sponsoring organizations, CARA kept up public pressure against family detention. Regular news coverage about the families and events such as an Easter Monday prayer rally at the White House helped ensure the families in detention are not forgotten.

Volunteers are always needed to continue CARA’s work. To learn more, to find out how to donate or to make arrangements to volunteer, visit


CARA is a joint project of CLINIC, the American Immigration Council, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services and the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

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Family Detention Update

Ashley Feasley

Despite efforts by immigrant advocates to end family detention, the government’s practice of detaining immigrant mothers and their children continues. CLINIC has been especially active in the national fight to eliminate large scale family detention centers built in response to the increase of Central American families seeking refuge at the U.S./Mexico border during the summer of 2014. In late March 2015, CLINIC partnered to form the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Representation and Advocacy Project with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), American Immigration Council (AIC), and Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Service (RAICES). As part of the CARA Project, CLINIC has two contract lawyers on the ground at the South Texas Family Residential Facility (“Dilley”) located in Dilley, Texas. CLINIC, through the CARA Project, has been providing legal services and running a pro bono project for detained families within Dilley. CLINIC and CARA also train lawyers and Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) accredited representatives, and lead advocacy and litigation efforts to challenge unlawful asylum, detention, and deportation policies.

Such advocacy activities have included submitting complaints to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) regarding inadequate medical care for detained mothers and children and access to counsel issues, and meeting with Jeh Johnson, DHS Secretary in a private meeting to discuss family detention concerns. CLINIC continues to advocate for an end to the inhumane practice of family detention with government stakeholders, participating in monthly White House Access to Legal Counsel meetings, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) NGO Working Group meetings, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Asylum Working Group meetings, and DHS CRCL meetings.

On the ground, CLINIC staff members have had an extremely meaningful impact, serving approximately 5,000 women in preparation for their credible and reasonable fear interviews, in partnership with our CARA Pro Bono Project partners. Various CLINIC staff members have also travelled to Dilley to work in assisting the CARA Pro Bono Project.

Coupling the work of CLINIC and the CARA Pro Bono Project have been litigation efforts to end family detention by national advocates. In February 2015 advocates filed a motion to enforce the Flores Settlement on behalf of detained mothers and children in the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California. In April 2015, the U.S. District court issued at tentative ruling that family detention policies violate Flores. In July 2015, the U.S. District Court issued a court order requiring children no longer be detained long-term within the detention facilities.

In August 2015, the government argued that family detention was still necessary and the U.S. District Court responded that children must be released from family detention facilities and that the government must comply with the order by October 23, 2015. Currently, the government continues to imprison mothers and children, and the detained population has increased in Dilley since the issuance of the order from the U.S. District Court.

The family detention landscape continues to change. Moving forward, CLINIC will continue to work for an end to family detention and see that immigrant women and children receive meaningful access to justice. Part of this work on the ground will largely be through our partnership in the CARA Project. For more information about CLINIC’s family detention project, please visit our website. Consider volunteering your time or making a donation to support vulnerable mothers and children through the CARA Project.


CLINIC Calls for End of Prosecutions of Asylum Seekers

CLINIC would like to announce that it has signed on to two letters addressing the problem of criminal prosecutions of migrants at the southern border. The first letter, sent July 10, 2015, to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, outlines the ways in which prosecuting asylum seekers violates Article 31 of the Refugee Convention and Protocol. It was signed onto by 17 faith-based, human rights, immigrant rights, and refugee protection organizations. The second letter, sent July 28, 2015, to Attorney General Lynch, addresses the broader policy and due process concerns that arise from the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) criminal prosecution of migrants and asylum seekers for illegal entry and re-entry. It was signed onto by an astounding 171 organizations.

At the heart of both letters are grave moral and legal concerns about the treatment of asylum seekers under a program called Streamline. Started in 2005, Streamline allows Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to quickly refer undocumented immigrants to DOJ for criminal prosecution. CBP claims that Streamline operates as a deterrent to unauthorized migration. However, a recent report from the DHS Office of the Inspector General questions the ability of CBP to demonstrate the program’s effectiveness. In addition, asylum seekers are being referred to Streamline before their asylum claims are being determined. This is in violation of Article 31 of the Refugee Convention and Protocol which does not allow for criminal prosecutions of asylum seekers before their claim is fairly decided.  CLINIC’s BIA Pro Bono Project has represented successful applicants for refugee protection who had completed lengthy federal prison terms before their applications were heard.

CLINIC joins with co-signers of both letters to ask Secretary Johnson and Attorney General Lynch to end the policy of referring asylum seekers for prosecution and more broadly, to reduce their use of prosecutions of migrants for illegal entry and re-entry.

July 28, 2015, Letter: Prosecutions for Illegal Entry (8 U.S.C. § 1325) and Illegal Re-entry (8 U.S.C. § 1326)”

July 10, 2015, Letter: Prosecution of Asylum Seekers in Violation of Article 31 of the Refugee Convention and Protocol”

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Family Detention Update


By Michelle N. Mendez

On February 20, 2015 the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia responded to the desperate pleas of detained Central American women and their children. The women had been found to have a credible fear of future persecution by an Asylum Officer or the Immigration Judge yet they remained detained on account of the U.S. government’s national security-based deterrence strategy of sending a message to other women and children considering fleeing to the United States for safety. The message? Think twice about coming to the United States for you may end up being indefinitely. But the court rejected this speculative reasoning writing “incantation of the magic words 'national security' without further substantiation is simply not enough to justify significant deprivations of liberty." The court enjoined DHS’s sweeping no-release policy as, among other things, a violation of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Immigrant rights advocates cheered the judge’s order and expected the women to undergo individualized consideration of whether they pose a danger or flight risk that justifies their detention. Given that most of the women and children were themselves victims of extreme violence, death threats, or rape and had every incentive to pursue asylum and related relief, it was difficult to see how these women and their children posed either a danger or a flight risk warranting their prolonged detention. However, on February 27th when the Department of Homeland Security at the Southern Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas began distributing bond determinations generally between $7,500 and $15,000 in response to the injunction, those expectations went unmet. The glimmer of hope evident on the women’s faces upon learning that a judge far away had ruled that they should have the opportunity to pay a bond quickly faded when they realized that DHS had set a bond at an amount that was the practical equivalent of the judge never having issued that decision in the first place. One woman prophetically remarked, “What is the point of the government setting bonds that we cannot possibly pay?”

Requesting review of the bond amount by the Immigration Judge was the next option. The Denver Immigration Court has jurisdiction over the women and children at the Southern Texas Family Detention Center so the women’s hearings are held over videoconference that provides a perhaps convenient barrier between the judges and ICE attorneys and the humanity of the women and children. In the first weeks following the injunction, the women argued that the Immigration Judge should lower the bond set by DHS and that a reasonable amount would be the statutory minimum of $1,500. One judge lowered bonds to $3,000, $6,000, and $7,500 in three cases. The higher bonds were not lowered further because, for the judge, the fact that many of the detainees had hired and financially supported a commercial smuggling ring suggested a connection to an enterprise that would allow one to flee easily within the United States. The judge’s logic was that a reasonable bond should not be less than the amount paid to the smuggling ring. Aside from the $3,000 bond, it was unlikely that the other two women would be able to post the bond amounts the Immigration Judge set. Those who are unable to pay the reconsidered bond have little choice but to face another eight months in detention awaiting their merits hearing. The only other option, and one the detention officers are willing to suggest, it to agree to a removal at government expense. Despite the injunction, the initial DHS bonds and the Immigration Judge’s review of these bond amounts are proving to be cost-prohibitive for most of these indigent women and children who sacrificed their life savings—and more—just getting to the United States.

The EOIR recently announced that the Miami Immigration Court will take jurisdiction over the Southern Texas Family Residential Center detainees. Advocates eagerly await the changes to come, if any, on bond review decisions.  However, the 2009 to 2014 asylum denial rate for Miami judges is fairly high, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse’s records.


Michelle spent two weeks in San Antonio and Dilley, Texas during which she met with detained women and observed immigration hearings at the Southern Texas Family Detention Center.  She represented CLINIC in developing the new collaboration among AILA, RAICES, and American Immigration Council named the CARA Project to assist detained women and children and provide a “face” to the issue of family detention.


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In-Country Refugee Processing: What Can You Do?

By Jen Riddle


Last December, the Department of State (DOS) launched its new Central American Minors (CAM) Refugee/Parole Program for parents who are lawfully present in the United States in a qualifying status to request that their children residing in El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras be admitted through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. Children found not to be eligible for refugee status but still at risk of harm may be granted parole on a case-by-case basis. To apply, qualifying parents must make an appointment with a DOS-designated refugee resettlement agency. Only designated resettlement agencies can file the Form DS-7699 Affidavit of Relationship. While legal service providers cannot assist clients in submitting the form, they can and should inform clients about the CAM program, help identify parents who appear to meet the eligibility criteria, and refer them to the appropriate resettlement agency.  Below are some specific suggestions of how your program can help.

Collaborate with the local refugee resettlement agency and other partners

If you haven’t already, meet with the resettlement agency in your area to find out how they prefer to receive referrals. If you are not certain which designated resettlement agency serves refugees in your county, consult the state-by-state directory located at (click on “CAM Program”). Does the resettlement agency conduct intake for the CAM program on certain days or times? Is there a particular staff member to whom potential applicants should be directed? Ask the resettlement agencies how you can make referrals in a way that helps them help applicants apply. Also, consider whether there is room for engagement or collaboration with your State Refugee Coordinator.

Educate your clients and the community

Make sure clients and community members understand that only a designated refugee resettlement agency can submit the form on their behalf and warn them against falling prey to fraud perpetrated by notarios or others who claim they can assist. You can customize this educational flyer that describes the program in English and Spanish. If your organization conducts DACA and DAPA information sessions, share resources about the program at those events.  Keep in mind that many Central Americans may not be familiar with the refugee resettlement program or the types of claims that our government recognizes as warranting refugee status. Consider also sharing information about the CAM program with social workers, city and county agencies, and social service providers that work with Central American immigrant communities.

Help identify those who might qualify for the program

Consider adding questions related to eligibility for the CAM program to your existing screening tools used during initial intake or at workshops. Can you search your data base for clients from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala and reach out to them? Remember that while the parent does not need to be a national of one of these countries, the qualifying child does. Pay particular attention when working with clients who already have one of the qualifying types of lawful presence - LPR, TPS, parole, deferred action, deferred enforcement departure, and withholding of removal.  Remember that deferred action recipients include DACA grantees, those granted deferred action as VAWA self-petitioners and derivatives, and those awaiting U visa status. If you represent unaccompanied children, share information about the program with their sponsors and family members. Be sure to explain to interested parents that the minor children of their children can be derivative beneficiaries and that a legal spouse may also be able to accompany the child if he or she is found to have an independent refugee claim.

Don’t forget about the option of parole

Stay tuned for more information about implementation of the parole component of the program for applicants who are interviewed but found not to qualify as refugees. DOS has stated that such individuals may be paroled by DHS on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. However, very little information has been released about the process so far. As implementation of the program progresses, there will be children who attend in-country interviews but are denied refugee status. At that time, legal service providers may be able to assist the parent in submitting the requisite Form I-134, Affidavit of Support, and supporting documentation to USCIS.


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Minutes of February 12, 2015 NSC Teleconference on Refugee/Asylee Issues

Document Production

Q.  Can you please clarify whether refugees, because they are statutorily exempt from having to pay the I-485 filing fees, are eligible to file an I-131 and/or I-765 at no additional charge when filed concurrently with an I-485 application to adjust status? Please also clarify whether a refugee may file an I-131 or I-765 at no additional charge after the I-485 initial filing, but while the I-485 remains pending.

The fee rule notice published in the Federal Register on May 30, 2007 indicates that the higher fee ($1,070) for an I-485 Adjustment of Status Application includes as many EADs or Advance Parole documents as necessary while the I-485 application is pending.  The applications need not be filed concurrently, but they do need to be filed while the I-485 application is pending. 

Refugees need not pay the fee for the I-485 application, but are required to pay for the EAD and Advance Parole applications.



Q. If an I-730 application has been approved by Nebraska Service Center and then routed to the National Visa Center to continue its processing, what would normally happen when the petitioner takes no action in the Pre-Processing upon request for original documents?  Will the follow-to-join process continue and the case be sent to the designated U.S. Embassy or will it be returned to the Nebraska Service Center (NSC)? If returned to NSC, what will the Service do?

For these follow-to-join cases, when do you anticipate this Pre-Processing by the National Visa Center become a standard in all U.S. Embassies (at this time it still excludes Nairobi, Kenya)?

This question is best answered by the National Visa Center.


Q. If the petitioner of an I-730 Asylee/Refugee Relative Petition dies during the process of the case, can an attorney representing the surviving widow replace him on communications with USCIS by entering appearance through a new G-28 under her name, even when she was not the petitioner?

No, the petitioner cannot be replaced by the beneficiary.  An attorney can only represent the petitioner of the I-730.


Q. When calling the National Customer Service Center or National Visa Center, the operators only want to talk to the petitioner or attorney of record.  Would we still submit the G-28 without cover letter to NSC?
Q. For an I-730, only the petitioner is recognized as being represented with a valid G-28.  The G-28 does not apply to the beneficiary.  Information from INA § 204(l) on relief for surviving relatives can be found on the USCIS website.  There is no relief for beneficiaries outside of the United States. What would be the best way to channel communications to avoid the beneficiaries’ cases being abandoned?

Beneficiaries in the U.S. with a pending I-730 can see basic eligibility for benefits under INA § 204(l) at USCIS’s website.  USCIS may continue processing the petition if the beneficiary makes a written request.  There is no relief for beneficiaries outside of the U.S.


Q. Also, in situations like these, would it be possible to request expediting the process?

Beneficiaries in the U.S. with a pending I-730 can see basic eligibility for benefits under INA 204(l) at USCIS’s website.  There is no relief for beneficiaries outside of the U.S.


Q.  In order to request this relief on an Asylee Relative petition, the petitioner must have died while Form I-730 was pending and we should ask the USCIS office that has the petition to approve the petition despite the petitioner’s death.  If the petitioner died after the approval by Nebraska Service Center and the case been sent to NVC, but before the beneficiaries were interviewed at the US Embassy abroad, would USCIS consider this as “pending”?

 Benefits under INA § 204(l) apply only to beneficiaries that are in the U.S.  If the petitioner dies while the beneficiary is outside the U.S. the petition will be denied. 


Asylum Applications

Q.  Stakeholders report difficulties “fee-ing in” defensive asylum applications with the Nebraska Service Center. Individuals are following the pre-order instructions listed on the USCIS website at (including providing a valid Form G-28 where applicable), but have reported not receiving receipt notices and/or biometrics appointment notices.  Stakeholders also report that the applications have been erroneously forwarded to a USCIS asylum office.

Please confirm that the pre-order instructions on the USCIS website are accurate. Has NSC identified the source of these problems? What can individuals do to ensure that they receive a receipt notice and biometrics notice in cases they have already filed?

The USCIS website is accurate. However, the NSC’s Records Division did recently discover that some attorneys were filing Form EOIR-28 along with the I-589.  Therefore, those attorneys were not receiving the notices.  As a courtesy, the NSC will key in the EOIR-27 or EOIR-28 and send the attorneys a letter indicating that they should file Form G-28.  Duplicate receipt notices cannot be generated at this time.  Contact the NSC regarding missing ACS or biometrics appointment notices.


Q.  When the spouse of an asylee is included in his I-589 application and afterwards both of them are granted asylum in front of an Immigration Judge and receive separate approval letters.   Will she be considered a principal asylee on her own?  Or is she considered a derivative / beneficiary?  If considered a principal, would this allow her to file Asylee Relative Petitions (Form I-730) on her own?

Ordinarily, the person who filed Form I-589 is considered the principal asylee, and those family members listed on the form are derivatives.  If more than one family member files Form I-589, and each receives an approval letter from immigration judge, then each would be considered a principal asylee and can file their own asylee relative petitions. 


Q. How can we determine if a derivative asylee still holds that status if it appears that the principal has abandoned it through reavailment?  In some scenarios, we have seen principal asylee parents not adjusting status to LPR and traveling out of the U.S. without refugee travel documents.  If after such travel, the derivative returns to the United States, can they apply for Adjustment of Status based on their original derivative asylum status? Or would he be considered in a different status at the time of admission?

Reavailament is a possible ground of termination of asylum status, but asylum status continues until formally terminated.  Asylees described above would have issues attempting to return to US after such travel.  Derivative asylees could still apply for Adjustment of Status, assuming that they still qualify as derivatives.


Q.  We have recently seen a couple of adjustment of status cases for derivative asylees in which USCIS has issued Requests for Evidence requesting to submit a Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record. This is happening even when we’ve enclosed copies of the medical exam conducted overseas. According to the Adjudicators Field Manual (Chapter 23.6):

“(…) 2) Asylees . With limited exceptions, all asylee adjustment applicants must obtain full medical examinations and vaccination certificates as part of the adjustment process (see 8 CFR 209.2(d) and Chapter 23.3 of this field manual). Subject to your verification that a full report, with vaccination requirements, is contained in the alien’s file, the exceptions which are not required to submit medical examination reports are: … Persons who received derivative asylum status through the I-730 process and received a medical examination before being issued travel authorization by a consular officer. (Note: this does not apply to persons whose status was changed to derivative asylee based on an I-730 petition approved while the beneficiary was in the U.S.; such persons must submit medical examination reports as part of the adjustment process.).”  Please clarify.

Derivative asylees who completed a medical exam overseas do not have to repeat the whole exam if the overseas exam was completed within two years.  They may be required to submit the relevant parts of Form I-693 (parts 1 and 5).  Note that Form I-693 is only valid for one year.  If Form I-693 has expired at the time of adjudication, the applicant must resubmit parts 1 and 5. 

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TPS Extended for Salvadorans

Salvadorans who have already been granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) are eligible to live and work in the United States for an additional 18 months and continue to maintain their status.  The extension of TPS for nationals of El Salvador is effective from March 10, 2015 and through September 9, 2016.  Nationals of El Salvador who have been granted TPS previously must re-register during the 60-day re-registration period, which began on January 7, 2015 and will remain in effect through March 9, 2015.

Only Salvadorans granted TPS and who re-registered for TPS during the prior re-registration periods, have been continuously physically present in the United States since March 9, 2001, and have continuously resided in the United States since February 13, 2001 may re-register.  Certain nationals of El Salvador may be entitled to late initial registration.  See INA § 244(c)(2) for grounds of inadmissibility that may apply.

To re-register, submit the following documents:

  • Form I-821 (without filing fee)
  • Form I-765 (with $380 filing fee if seeking an EAD or extension unless seeking fee waiver)
  • Biometrics fee of $85 for applicants age 14 or older (unless seeking fee waiver).

Some re-registrants may not receive their new EADs until after their current EAD expires. Therefore, current EADs for Salvadorans will be automatically extended for six months, through September 9, 2015.


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USCIS Implements Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program

By Kristina Karpinski

On December 18, 2014, USCIS announced implementation of the Haitian Family Reunification Parole (HFRP) program for certain beneficiaries of family-based preference petitions filed on or before that date.  Under the program, eligible Haitians whose immigrant visas are expected to become available within approximately 18 to 30 months will be given an opportunity to receive parole to enter the United States.  Once in the United States, the parolees will be eligible to apply for an employment authorization document; when their priority dates become current, they may apply to adjust status to permanent residence.  The program is intended to expedite family reunification and aid Haiti in its continued recovery efforts following the devastating January 12, 2010 earthquake.

Participation in the HFRP program is available to Haitians who are:

  • In Haiti
  • The beneficiaries of an I-130 relative petition that was approved on or before December 18, 2014
  • Whose immigrant visas are expected to be available in approximately 18 to 30 months, and
  • Whose petitioning relatives in the United States have received an invitation from the National Visa Center (NVC) to apply for parole on their behalf.

Derivative spouses and children of the principal Haitian beneficiaries are also eligible to participate in the program.  Beneficiaries of immediate relative petitions are not eligible for the program since immigrant visas are immediately available to them.

The National Visa Center will begin sending written invitations to eligible petitioners on or after February 2, 2015.  The NVC will send invitations based on the date the immigrant visas are expected to become available so those cases with the earliest priority dates will receive invitations first.  The notice will instruct petitioners on how to file the Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, for each beneficiary with the required fee or a fee waiver request.  Participation in the program is voluntary and petitioners will be given a deadline by which they must apply on behalf of their relatives.  Petitioners who believe they are eligible to file should make sure the NVC has their current mailing address by contacting the NVC at or calling (603) 334-0700.  Representatives can also contact the NVC at

The Form I-131 and supporting documentation will be reviewed by the USCIS.  If the application appears approvable, it will be forwarded by the NVC to the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  USCIS or the Department of State in Haiti will interview the beneficiary to determine eligibility for the program.  Beneficiaries may also need to provide biometrics.  Decisions on the parole requests are discretionary and will be made on a case-by-case basis.  The beneficiaries in Haiti will need to undergo medical examinations and security background checks before parole is granted.  Additionally, beneficiaries must meet all eligibility requirements for the family-based immigrant visa (with the exception that an immigrant visa number is available) and be admissible to the United States. 

If parole is granted, beneficiaries will be issued a travel document to come to the United States.  Once in the United States, parolees can apply for an employment authorization document under 8 CFR § 274a.12(c)(11).  They will also be eligible to apply to adjust status to permanent residence when their priority date becomes current.  Should an immigrant visa become current while the I-131 is pending, beneficiaries can choose to continue with the parole request or decide instead to purse the immigrant visa.  If a beneficiary chooses to apply for the immigrant visa, the applicant will be required to pay all fees associated with that process and USCIS will not refund the fee for the parole request.


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Webinar: Overseas Refugee Processing Program for Central American Minors

On December 1, 2014, the Department of State launched a new in-country refugee and parole program for children residing in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Watch a free webinar to learn more about the process permitting certain parents in the United States to request that their children be admitted to the United States as refugees or granted parole. What are the eligibility requirements for a parent to apply? Which Central American children will be eligible? How does the process work? Most importantly, what can legal service providers do to educate communities about the program, identify those who might be eligible, and refer them to refugee resettlement agencies to complete their applications.

 Held January 13, 2015

Presenters for this webinar were Jen Riddle and Kristina Karpinski, CLINIC Attorneys, and Jeffrey Hawks, Associate Director for Processing Operations, USCCB.

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Government Launches Overseas Processing Program for Certain Central American Refugee Children

By Jen Riddle

The Department of State (DOS) recently launched its in-country refugee and parole program for children residing in El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras. Under this program, parents who are lawfully present in the United States (LPRs, parolees, recipients of TPS, DACA, deferred action, Deferred Enforced Departure, or withholding of removal) may request a refugee status interview for their children who are currently residing in El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras. Eligible children will be admitted to the country through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.  Minors who are not found to be eligible for refugee admission but who are still at risk of harm may be paroled into the United States on a case-by-case basis.  According to DOS, the program is intended “to provide a safe, legal, and orderly alternative to the dangerous journey that some children are currently undertaking to the United States.”

Eligible parents interested in applying for a child must submit Form DS-7699. This form can be submitted only through a resettlement agency funded by the DOS Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. While other agencies cannot assist clients in filing the form, they can inform clients about program, help identify those who appear to meet the eligibility criteria, and refer them to the closest designated resettlement agency by consulting the national directory.

Under the program, parents over age 18 may file applications for unmarried children under the age of 21, including biological, stepchildren, or legally adopted children, so long as they are nationals of and currently residing in El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras. Requests may also include: 1) the second parent so long as he or she is residing with the child abroad and married to the petitioning parent in the United States; and 2) the child’s unmarried children. After Form DS-7699 is filed, the child will be invited by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to a pre-screening interview, and the petitioning parent will be contacted about submitting DNA evidence to confirm the biological relationship. Next, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will interview the child to determine whether he or she is eligible for refugee status and admissible to the United States. If so, upon completing the required security checks and obtaining medical clearance, approved refugees will travel to the United States where they will be eligible for the same support provided to all resettled refugees, including assistance from a designated resettlement agency.

Children (and any eligible parents) who are found not to qualify as refugees may be paroled on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. Parole is temporary and does not constitute a permanent legal immigration status, but it does enable recipients to apply for employment authorization. Those granted parole will be authorized for an initial two-year period and may request renewal.

DOS anticipates that the number of Central American children (and parents) admitted to the United States through this new refugee program in FY 2015 will be relatively small given the estimated processing times for U.S. refugee admissions. Those admitted will be counted against the 4,000 cap for FY 2015 admissions from the Latin America and Caribbean region although, according to DOS, there is some flexibility to accommodate a higher number this year, if needed.

Key documents for the program are located here.  CLINIC will provide more information about its implementation in a free webinar on January 13, 2015. Click here to register.


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CLINIC Newsletter - November 2014 - VOL. XVIII No. 11

 In this issue…                       

BIA Issues Three Decisions on Recognition and Accreditation

Haitian Family Reunification Program To Be Implemented in 2015

News From the Catholic Network

Update from Ciudad Juarez  


Immigration Updates

Law and Practice Feature

Question Corner

Technical Assistance and Trainings


Position Openings


Visa Bulletin                                                                                                                                                             

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Haitian Family Reunification Program To Be Implemented in 2015

By Kristina Karpinski

 The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced the Haitian Family Reunification Parole (HFRP) Program for certain Haitian beneficiaries of approved family-based immigrant petitions.  Under this program, eligible Haitians will be paroled into the United States up to two years before their priority dates become current, and will be allowed to remain in the U.S. until their immigrant visas are available. According to DHS, the program will be implemented in early 2015 and is intended to accelerate the ability of Haitians to safely and legally enter the U.S. to reunify with family.

Under the program qualified petitioners of approved I-130 relative petitions will receive an invitation from the National Visa Center (NVC) to apply for parole for their family members in Haiti.  The program targets only those preference category cases where the priority date is expected to be current within approximately two years.  Only petitioners who receive written notification from NVC may submit a parole request.  Decisions on the parole requests are discretionary and will be made on a case-by-case basis.  The beneficiaries in Haiti will need to undergo medical examinations and security background checks before parole is granted.  If parole is granted, beneficiaries will be issued a travel document to come to the United States.   Once in the U.S., the parolees can immediately apply for an employment authorization document, and once their priority dates become current they can apply to adjust status to permanent residence.

DHS anticipates that approximately 5,000 Haitians will qualify to pursue parole during the first year and expects it will be a multi-year program. USCIS plans to provide more information on the program, including processing details, by the end of this year.  CLINIC will provide more information on implementation once it becomes available.

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CLINIC Newsletter - October 2014 - VOL. XVIII No. 10

In this issue…                        

Each of Us is a Masterpiece of God's Creation

Obama Announces In-Country Refugee Processing for Central American Children

News From the Catholic Network

Unaccompanied Children's Issues

Advocacy Update 

State and Local Issues

Law and Practice Feature

Immigration Law Updates

Question Corner

A lawful permanent resident files an I-130 for his spouse in 1994 with his daughter (DOB September 28, 1978) named as derivative.  The priority date is July 15, 1994.  The daughter ages out in 1999 before the F-2A category for Mexico becomes current.  The LPR dad files second I-130 for aged-out derivative daughter in the F-2B category and is able to retain the original priority date. The LPR father subsequently naturalizes in 2012 converting the F-2B petition to the F-1 category. The priority date was close enough to becoming current in 2012 that it triggered the NVC sending out a fee bill to the daughter.  The daughter didn’t receive the notice since she had changed her address.  In September 2014 the NVC sent a final notice indicating that it had terminated the case and destroyed the file.  Assuming you are not able to convince NVC to undo what they did, is there any relief for child?

Stumped?  Find Out Here!

Visa Bulletin

Technical Assistance and Trainings

Position Opening

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Advocacy Update: NSC Teleconference on Refugee/Asylee Issues

On October 9, 2014 the Nebraska Service Center held a teleconference on refugee/asylee issues.  The following is a summary of the discussion.



Q. Can a refugee who has been to immigration court for a felony charge, but has not been removed from the U.S. because his homeland refuses to admit him, apply for authorization to work?   The latest official word on his documents is “voluntary departure.”

A. To determine eligibility for work authorization, USCIS must have evidence of current immigration status. Eligibility will depend on the outcome of any proceeding an individual is in. Each individual should receive a copy of the court order at the proceeding. It they did not or have lost it you can file a FOIA request with EOIR.


Q. The I-765 instructions have been revised as of 8/6/14.  Not quite sure if this part has changed, but page 1 indicates that refugees should file their I-765 with either a copy of their I-590, approval letter, or I-730 approval notice.  Our project has never had a refugee client who was given a copy of their I-590 form from overseas (we have gotten them through FOIAs, however),  and only infrequently have we seen any approval notices from overseas refugee processing (sometimes clients will have a copy of their “transportation letters” which indicate they have been approved for entry as refugees).  Then, it is not until page 6 in the “Required Documentation” section that a copy of the I-94 is mentioned in general for all applications.  These instructions would seem to be confusing to refugees.  We have regularly tried to encourage USCIS to either delete the page 1 reference to “paroled as a refugee” since we don’t believe that any persons now enter the U.S. in this status – this status was used for a time prior to the official passage of the Refugee Act of 1970.  The problem is that many Cuban parolees who try and do the I-765 on their own typically opt for this provision and then have their applications denied because they don’t have that status.  Can there be some clarification added to this section on page 1?

A. This was more of a comment than a question but, in general, information that is forwarded to Headquarters is for verification purposes. An I-94 will do for verification but so will an I-730. For more questions email:



Q. Are there any instances in which a Form I-131 Application for Refugee Travel Document can be waived?

A. Regulations do not allow for a waiver of the Travel Document.


Q. Can I-131’s be adjudicated for someone with withholding of removal, and if traveling out of the U.S. (to a different country than the country of origin) will the applicant be able to re-enter the United States in the same status?

A. Anyone currently in any removal proceeding must file an I-131 to get authorization for parole.


Q. Follow up questions: What happens if individuals are still waiting for a Travel Document and it has been well outside the regular processing period? Is there a way to expedite it? Will a person’s criminal history stop them from getting approved?

A. If a person has proper status they are eligible for a travel document. Typically, criminal records do not bar them. The only thing that can bar them is if they are in any proceeding. Because some of them do take a long time, you can submit a request to expedite through the customer service center.



Q. Who adjudicates Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion, submitted in relation to Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition? Is it the Nebraska Service Center or the Administrative Appeals Office?

A. A decision on Form I-730 cannot be appealed, but you can file a motion to reopen. The NSC will adjudicate I-290B for an I-730 that was adjudicated at the NSC.


Adjustment of Status

Q.  I understand that USCIS has reverted to issuing RFEs in asylum adjustments that require nunc pro tunc asylum filings, avoiding the need for clients to re-file their I-485 adjustment applications.  For cases that were issued denials, went through the nunc pro tunc process, and are re-filing their I-485 applications, will applicants be forced to re-pay the fee or will an exception be made in these instances?

A.  In November 2012 the policy was changed to facilitate the nunc pro tunc re-filing. The adjustment fee for refilling is due with the application even if an individual is asking for a waiver. Any other problems individual have should be address to headquarters. Email:


Q. We continue to receive two approval notices for almost all adjustment filings (this may not be specific to refugees/asylees).  Is it possible to prevent this from continuing?

A. Approval notices are automatically produced.  The NSC asks organizations to give examples of instances of duplication so that they can look into it. Since this has been happening for years and submitting the actual or copies of approval notices would be too much, just provide the receipt number so that the NSC can pull up the notices and see what was happening.


Q. What, if any, position does the NSC have on the issue of refugee applicants who are Hispanic and prefer to drop their second last name at the green card stage (meaning that the I-485 is prepared with just one last name; the double last name is listed as an other name on the G-325)?  One of the local CIS offices (which ends up getting a lot of Cuban Adjustment Act cases referred by the NBC) has indicated that there is supposedly a CIS policy that if a Cuban, for example, is born with two last names, that this is their legal name.  As a result, if they want to drop their second last name on their green card, they would need to have an official court document showing a name change.  This issue, in general, however, does not seem to be consistent among service centers and local offices.  Is there a national policy on this issue – and if not, what position does the NSC take?

 A. Based on the regulations, any applications must use an individual’s full legal last name. If individuals wish to change their name, including dropping a last name, they must show official documentation reflecting a name change.


Q. We have some asylee-based adjustment of status (I-485) cases that were filed at NSC.  We received notices that those cases were being transferred to NBC.  Can you clarify what role or function NBC has in the processing of these adjustment applications?

A. Some I-485 applications and interviews are sent to NBC. Those that are will be adjudicated by NBC.



Q. In August 2014, USCIS posted six new policy memos regarding discretionary exemptions for certain terrorism related inadmissibility grounds for material support to certain groups – mainly from Eritrea and Ethiopia.  Is NSC at liberty to indicate what other organizations are in the process of being considered for similar exemptions?  

A. Any questions on current use or future extensions of TRIG policy need to be sent to



Q, Is it possible for the Service to send RFEs to both the Representative and the Applicant/Petitioner?  It would be helpful if this could be done.

A. NSC will elevate this issue to headquarters for a policy decision and will get back to people.



Q. Our organization has recently received a number of notices relating to NSC cases that we are not handling and have never submitted G-28s for.  Is anyone else having those problems?  If we do continue to get notices for cases that are not our cases, should we mail them back to the PO Box 82521 address? 

 A. NSC was not aware of the issue and would like people to provide specific case numbers and send them to



Q. When an AR-11 change of address form is filed online for an individual with a pending I-589, the system rejects the receipt number.  Is the new address transmitted to the appropriate asylum office?

A. If an address change is received, the system will update, but only if an address change is allowed. If not, the request will be sent to the office that has that case number. There the address will be changed if it is possible to do so.


Q. In the scenario when an asylum applicant is a minor, and his/her EOIR case has been administratively closed so that he/she could pursue his/her asylum claim with CIS, and then he/she changed address - will the AR-11 filed online be sufficient information of his/her change in address for both the EOIR and the CIS?

A. USCIS is not automatically updated with AR-11. It will require a manual update. Address change requests to USCIS should be done by calling the National Customer Service Center (NCSC) at 800-375-5283.


Q. Our organization has had a number of cases where we have received NCSC confirmations of address changes prior to the production of green cards, but then the green card is sent to the old address.  Fortunately, the tracking information with link to the USPS site tells us what zip code it is/has gone to, but clients have had to go to their old address to track down and catch their green card.  What can be done to ensure that new addresses are in the system short of calling NCSC after each online address change?

A. Green cards are sent to individuals from a distribution center with the address that they currently have. In the event that the card is sent back to the distributor it will be forwarded to a new address if it has been updated. Cards will be held for one year or until a new address is provided.



Q. Lockbox scanning issues:  While the lockbox used for refugee I-485s seems to be operating better than some of the other lockboxes, some of those  other lockbox systems seem to have a problem with scanning.  We assume that that lockbox staff (who are employees of contractors, correct?) are doing the scanning before the file is sent either physically and/or electronically to the service center that will work on the case.  The problems seem to be that some scanners are not scanning all pages, resulting in a return of the application packet for allegedly “missing” pages.  In addition, some lockboxes seem to be unable to scan front and back sides, so if a G-28 is on the front and back side, one side does not get scanned.  What is the system-wide procedure for scanning applications and does it differ by lockbox?

A. The Records Department confirmed with JP Morgan that the scanners scan double sided pages and they are not expected to miss pages. Any examples of missed pages should be sent to

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Landmark Asylum Decision for Domestic Violence Victims

By Tatyana Delgado

The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) recently issued a landmark decision that impacts domestic violence victims who are seeking asylum in the United States.  Asylum applicants must show that the persecution they have or will face is on account of one of five protected grounds: race, religion, national origin, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.  It is the last ground that has received the most interest and litigation.  

In Matter of A-R-C-G- et al., 26 I&N Dec. 388 (BIA 2014), the BIA held that “married women in Guatemala who are unable to leave their relationship” is a particular social group for purposes of obtaining asylum and withholding of removal.  While other domestic violence victims who belong to this particular social group have received asylum in the past, this is the first time that the BIA has issued a binding precedential decision.  To learn more about successful asylum cases involving domestic violence victims, review the Department of Homeland Security’s Supplemental Briefs in Matter of L.R. and Matter of R.A.

In Matter of A-R-C-G- et al., the lead respondent suffered at the hands of her husband while she was living in Guatemala.  On several occasions, the respondent’s husband beat her.  He also broke her nose and raped her.  The respondent contacted the police, but was told they would not get involved in a marital relationship.

The BIA found that the respondent suffered harm that rises to the level of persecution, is a member of a particular social group, and that the persecution was on account of her membership in a particular social group.  The BIA stated that members of the group share a common immutable characteristic, which is gender.  Marital status can also be an immutable characteristic in instances where the person is unable to leave a relationship.  In addition, the BIA found that the group has particularity and is socially distinct.  Social distinction depends on the facts and evidence presented in each case, including evidence related to country conditions.

The BIA remanded the case.  The Immigration Judge must now consider whether the government of Guatemala was unwilling or unable to control the respondent’s husband and issue a decision on her eligibility for asylum.

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CLINIC Newsletter - July 2014 - VOL. XVIII No. 7

In this issue…                        

Protecting the Vulnerable:  Unaccompanied Immigrant Children

U. S. Department of State Updates Foreign Affairs Manual Guidance

News From the Catholic Network

  • New Subscribers
  • Network Affiliate Agency Profile                                                                                                                                                                      

Advocacy Update

Immigration Law Update

Technical Assistance and Trainings



Visa Bulletin

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Maryland Law Expands Eligibility for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

By Kelly Kidwell Hughes, Advocacy Intern


Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) allows undocumented minors who have suffered abandonment, neglect, or abuse by a parent to become lawful permanent residents.  To qualify, the child must have an order from a juvenile court demonstrating that he or she is dependent on the state and cannot be safely reunited with parents.  Federal law allows children under the age of 21 to qualify, but many potential beneficiaries between the ages of 18 and 21 are left out.  Their state courts only have jurisdiction over children younger than 18, so they cannot obtain the necessary court order to apply to USCIS.

Michelle Mendez, an attorney with Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services of the Archdiocese of Washington, encountered many Maryland children unable to obtain Special Immigrant Juvenile Status because the state’s juvenile courts did not have jurisdiction over children once they turned 18.  “We found ourselves representing many minors at risk of ‘aging-out’ and then meeting even more minors who had lost the opportunity to obtain the SIJS factual findings predicate order solely because they had reached the age of 18,” Mendez said. To fix the problem, Catholic Charities partnered with various government and non-profit organizations to push for a state bill to expand the jurisdiction of Maryland’s juvenile courts by changing the Maryland Family Law definition of a “child” to include unmarried individuals younger than 21 (rather than 18).

The bill, H.B. 315 was backed by a diverse coalition including the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau, the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, the Homeless Persons Representation Project (HPRP), family law attorneys, and child welfare representatives.  Mendez was able to garner support from diverse allies by portraying the bill a child welfare measure, rather than an immigration bill. “For the Maryland Public Defender, we emphasized the importance of a responsible adult in the lives of teenagers to keep them on the right track,” she said. “For the HPRP, we highlighted the cases where these minors were thrown out of the house once they turned 18. Then, we explained that the bill would help curb homelessness by allowing a judge to order a guardian or custodial parent to be responsible for the minor until that minor turns 21. This would allow teenagers more time to learn English, integrate, become acquainted with American society and, as a result, decrease their potential for homelessness.”

The bill passed in Maryland’s legislature without any opposing testimony, was signed into law in April, and goes into effect in October. New York has passed a similar bill, and other states are considering the issue. For advocates who would like to champion similar legislation, Mendez advises partnering with a legislator who has a track record of success and the respect of peers. “Keep your efforts as low-key as possible, and do not involve the media or any group who will divulge your bill to a wider audience,” she said. “Less is more with this type of bill. Many of us will want to reach out to traditional immigration allies, but those allies will often bring with them anti-immigration opposition.” Mendez also said it was important to carefully select individuals to testify in support of the bill.  “They should represent different ethnic backgrounds to note the diversity in the class of beneficiaries,” she said. “We had a uniformed Marine Sergeant testify who, to no avail, sought to be the guardian of his 20-year-old sister who survived the earthquake in Haiti but was orphaned as a result.”

If you would like more information about seeking Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, visit USCIS’s website about the program. USCIS has also released a new resource about Special Immigrant Juvenile Status specifically for juvenile courts.  For advocacy strategy assistance on this or any other state measure relating to immigration, including the development of resources specific to your state or campaign, please reach out to CLINIC’s State and Local Advocacy Attorney Jen Riddle at (301) 565-4807.

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BIA Finds Asylee Status Ends After Adjustment

 By Susan Schreiber


What if your asylee client became deportable for conviction of a crime after adjusting status?  Can you client re-adjust under INA § 209(b), along with seeking a waiver under § 209(c)?   In Matter of C-J-H, 26 I&N Dec. 284, the Board said “no” because asylees who adjust status to lawful permanent residence no longer qualify as asylees.

In reaching this decision, the Board acknowledged that INA § 209(a) contains language that explicitly bars refugees from readjusting their status, but makes no reference to asylees.  Nevertheless, the Board determined that 209(b), by it's plain terms, applies only to asylees seeking to adjust to LPR status, and that once an asylee completes this process, she or he no longer has the status of asylee. The Board also rejected the argument that readjustment under 209(b) should be permitted because readjustment under INA § 245(a) is available to certain deportable LPRs.  In the Board's view, 209(b) adjustment is distinguishable because it has "different language and narrower purposes" than 245(a) adjustment.

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TPS for Haitians Extended

The Department of Homeland Security has extended its designation of Haiti for TPS for 18 months.  The extension will begin on July 23, 2014 and last through January 22, 2016.  The 60-day re-registration period for those who currently have TPS began on March 3, 2014 and will end on May 2, 2014.  Those who are eligible and timely re-register will be granted an EAD with an expiration date of January 22, 2016.  In addition, the agency will automatically extend the validity of current EADs for six months, through January 22, 2015, for those who timely re-register.

To re-register, current Haitian TPS status holders will file Form I-821, without paying a filing fee, and Form I-765, with the filing fee unless they are younger than 14 or over 65 or do not wish to receive an EAD.  In addition, they must pay the biometrics filing fee if they are 14 years of age or older. Both the biometrics and the employment authorization application fee can be waived based on indigency.

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CLINIC Newsletter - February 2014 - VOL. XVIII No. 2

In this issue…                        

  • Visa Bulletin                                                                                              
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BIA Re-Visits “Social Visibility” in Published Decisions


By Bradley Jenkins


On February 7, 2014, the Board of Immigration Appeals published two companion cases clarifying its interpretation of the phrase “particular social group” in the definition of a refugee.  Matter of W-G-R-, 26 I&N Dec. 208 (BIA 2014) and Matter of M-E-V-G-, 26 I&N Dec. 227 (BIA 2014), recast the Board’s “social visibility” test for a valid particular social group – renaming it “social distinction.”  Further, the decisions emphasize that whether a social group exists is something that the applicant must prove with evidence.

The BIA had previously decided that when an asylum applicant asserts that he or she will be harmed on account of his or her membership in a particular social group, the group must be “socially visible.” In these new cases, the Board clarified that it had never intended the term social visibility to be understood as literal, on-sight visibility.  People do not need to be able to identify a person as a member of the group just by looking at them.  Because of confusion around the term “visibility,” the Board renamed the requirement as “social distinction.” The social distinction test asks whether the society in question considers people with the characteristics of the applicant to be a distinct group of people.

A major theme of both opinions was that the applicant must prove in every case both the existence of the group in society and that the persecutor is likely to target the applicant on account of his or her group membership. This can be a good thing.  A characteristic, such as whether a person owns land, may be extremely important in one society, but irrelevant in another. Likewise, as time goes on, it is possible for a social perception to crystallize into a sense of “group” that was previously lacking. However, this evidence-based approach is a double-edged sword; it requires advocates to prove “social distinction” with evidence, or else the claim will fail. In fact, the Board ruled in W-G-R- that because the applicant did not include evidence about how society in El Salvador tells the difference between a gang member and a former gang member, the applicant had failed to prove that “former gang members” formed a distinct “group” in El Salvador.

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Nebraska Service Center Teleconference – January 16, 2014

By Allison Posner

On January 16, 2014, USCIS’s Nebraska Service Center (NSC) held a stakeholder engagement on issues related to processing of refugee and asylee petitions. Select questions and answers from the teleconference are below.  Please note that this teleconference was part of a series of informal monthly stakeholder calls held by the NSC.  If you wish to participate in the monthly calls, email CEO.NSC2@USCIS.DHS.GOV  with your contact information, and you will be added to the center’s mailing list.



 Q. Are there any options for USCIS to expedite the processing of I-730 Refugee/Asylee family reunification petitions?  For example, for a beneficiary whose health or safety may be in danger?

 A. All expedite requests are reviewed on a case by case and reviewed by the center director.  The burden is on the petitioner to demonstrate: severe financial loss to the company or individual, USCIS error or compelling interest of USCIS, a humanitarian situation, or a Department of Defense or national interest situation.  In the latter case, the request must be from a U.S. government entity and state that the delay will be detrimental to our government. 

For I-730s, the petitioner must additionally show real proof of an emergency, such as evidence from the Red Cross of UNHCR.  Call USCIS’s National Customer Service Center (NCSC) for a service request to be forwarded to the service center.

Q. Would it be possible for USCIS to work with Department of State to automatically have the refugee resettlement agency filing an I-730 to be the resettlement agency assigned to the case?   Petitioners come to us because they trust us and want us to serve their family member(s), we work hard on their I-730, and then often the case is assigned to a different agency for resettlement.

A. This is a question that must be posed to the Department of State. 

Q. Once an I-730 has been approved and the derivative has successfully obtained a visa from the Consulate where they reside in order to enter the U.S., how long does the individual have to enter the United States before the visa becomes invalid?

A. This question should be directed to the international affairs office at USCIS Headquarters.

Q. What is USCIS policy regarding refugees from countries where polygamy is common practice?  (e.g. If the first marriage is considered valid, for immigration purposes, would someone applying for refugee status need to divorce other subsequent spouses in order to be eligible for resettlement to the United States?  Or would this person simply be asked to sign a statement declaring that they do not intend to practice polygamy in the United States?)  What is USCIS policy regarding eligibility for I-730 Refugee/Asylee family reunification petitions for biological children from polygamous marriages?

A. The United States considers only the first marriage valid.  Only children of the first valid marriage are considered legitimate.  In order to petition for children born from subsequent wives, evidence of a bona fide relationship with each child must be submitted.  Additional questions on this topic should be submitted to USCIS’s Refugee, Asylum, and International Operations directorate.

Q. What are the family reunification options for Cubans (i.e. are there any additional family reunification options that are specific to Cubans)?

A. The Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program (CFRP) is available to Cuban nationals who reside in Cuba and are beneficiaries of approved Forms I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, “for which an immigrant visa is not yet immediately available.” The CFRP was designed to allow Cuban nationals in oversubscribed family-sponsored visa categories, to apply immediately for parole to the United States, to expedite the family reunification and deter those waiting long period for their visa numbers to become available to attempt to come to the U.S. through irregular migration.


I-485 Asylee

Q. This question is about aliens born before 1991 in what is now Eritrea. On EADs the USCIS lists the country as Ethiopia. When we asked about this before, the USCIS indicated that the alien could not change the country to Eritrea. Is this the policy for the I-485? This causes problem for those from that area that want to travel.

A. The procedure for issuance of I-551 Employment Authorization Documents is to indicate country of birth as documented in the file. More specifically, the adjudicator will refer to the country of birth as indicated in the asylee or refugee grant. 

Q. I have filed several adjustments for asylees from Eritrea.  There have been a few instances (three to four in the past three years) in which we have indicated “Eritrea” as the country of birth, but the LPR cards have been issued with “Ethiopia” in that space, even if we have not indicated Ethiopia as a country of birth or citizenship anywhere in the materials.  In some such cases, this has occurred even when we have provided a civil birth certificate from Eritrea.  Although we can file Form I-90 to have this corrected and there is no USCIS fee for the customer, it would obviously be preferable that the card be issued with correct information.  Is this an issue of simple human error or is there some sort of “data trigger” which produces this problem?   Please advise.

A. As discussed above, I-485 adjudicators indicate the country of birth as documented in the file and as indicated in the asylee or refugee grant.  For individual case inquiries, contact the Nebraska Service Center at

Q. What is the status of review of TRIG cases – in particular pending AOS and exemptions?

A. Contact USCIS Headquarters’ Office of Service Center Operations at for all TRIG related questions.


Please see CLINIC’s recent update for information on changes to the Terrorist-Related Inadmissibility Grounds (TRIG) made by the Departments of State and Homeland Security) on February 5, 2014.

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Nebraska Service Center Teleconference - February 13, 2014

By Allison Posner

The following are the unofficial minutes from a teleconference with the Nebraska Service center on February 13, 2014. Please note that this teleconference was part of a series of informal monthly stakeholder calls held by the NSC.  If you wish to participate in the monthly calls, email CEO.NSC2@USCIS.DHS.GOV  with your contact information, and you will be added to the center’s mailing list.


I-131 RP/RTD

 Q. It is a known fact that a re-entry permit is necessary for LPRs who live one year or more our side the US.  Is it still needed if a person goes out for 6 months -one year or less than six months? For example if a person just received his or her green card and comes here to stay for 3 months and then goes back to his own country to wind up business for more than six months but less than one year does he/she need a reentry permit?  What time period is safe (to go out without a re-entry permit)?

 A. US Customs and Border Protection is the agency responsible for the inspection and admission of travelers to the United States.  Per 8 CFR § 211, a Lawful Permanent Resident may reenter the United States with a valid unexpired I-551 Permanent Resident card if he or she has been absent from the U.S. for less than one year.  If you plan on being absent for more than one year, it is advisable to apply for a Reentry Permit.  The Reentry Permit will allow an individual to reenter during its validity without needing to apply for a Returning Resident Visa from a U.S. consulate abroad.

Q. If biometrics for a re-entry permit are needed for a child under the age of 14, i.e. no fingerprinting required, and there are reasons why the child cannot appear for biometrics, for example if the family is already overseas, would NSC consider accepting passport photos in lieu of requiring the child to appear for biometrics?

A. All applicants for a Reentry Permit, regardless of age, must complete biometrics.  Failure to appear for biometrics may be a reason for denial of the application. 


Employment Authorization

 Q. Will a F1 student visa holder be able to remain in the States and transfer to another program after his/her EAD expires if he/she obtains a new I-20 for a new program? For example, the EAD expires on 8th July 2014 and the new I-20 is effective from August 15, 2014.

A. A student who has completed a course of study and any authorized practical training following completion of studies will be allowed an additional 60-day period to prepare for departure from the United States or to transfer in accordance with 8 CFR § 214.2(f). 

Q. Does enrolling into a graduate program which is named "Part-time Evening Program" but has minimum 12 credits per semester satisfy the minimum credit requirements of an F1 visa?

A. Per the regulations, a full course of study means post graduate or post doctoral study at a college or university certified by a Designated School Official (DSO) as a full course of study

Q. Could you please give tips to follow to seek OPT following completion of their course of study and graduation, in filing of I-765, when and with what, and time frame? Also, what if the student needs to travel overseas after the EAD is issued?

A. A student may file form I-765 for post-completion Optional Practical Training up to 90 days prior to the program end date and not longer than 60 days after the program end date.  The applicant must include an I-20 from the DSO recommending OPT.

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ABT Settlement Results in Changes to Asylum EAD Clock Policy

By Ilissa Mira

On November 4, 2013, a final settlement agreement was approved in the nationwide class action B.H. et al. v. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, et al., No. CV11-2108-RAJ(W.D. Wash.December 15, 2011) (referred to as the “ABT Settlement Agreement”).  The lawsuit challenged Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) policies for administering the “asylum EAD clock.”  As a result of the settlement, the government has agreed to several policy changes meant to clarify asylum EAD clock regulations, improve transparency in the management of the asylum clock process, and address unfair clock stoppages.  In addition, EOIR released an updated Operating Policies and Procedures Memorandum (OPPM) 13-02, offering guidelines for implementing the ABT settlement agreement and superseding asylum EAD clock guidance published in OPPM 11-02. 

The term “asylum clock” is commonly used to describe two related processes:

1)      The asylum adjudication clock, which refers to the 180-day period within which asylum applications must be adjudicated after they are filed.  INA §208(d)(5)(A)(iii); and

2)      The asylum EAD clock, which measures the 180-day period after filing for asylum that an applicant must wait before receiving an EAD.  INA §208(d)(2).  Under immigration regulations, asylum applicants may apply for an EAD “no earlier than 150 days after the date on which a complete asylum application is submitted…” 8 CFR 208.7(a)(1).


However, any delay that is requested or caused by the applicant stops the clock, preventing the asylum applicant from submitting an EAD application.  8 CFR §208.7(a)(2). 


The ABT Settlement addresses the following issues:

Greater transparency in the management of EAD clocks.  Every time an immigration judge (IJ) schedules a continued hearing, he or she must enter an “adjournment code” into the file.  An adjournment code that reflects a delay “requested or caused by the applicant” stops the EAD clock.  Prior policy, however, did not require an IJ to make the determination to stop the clock on the record.  The settlement provides that the Immigration Court will now give asylum applicants written notice about the impact of different adjournment codes and that the IJ will state the reason for adjournment on the record.  The updated OPPM 13-03 includes a list of adjournment codes and describes each code’s effect on the EAD clock.  Greater transparency in the asylum EAD process means that the impact of an adjournment is clear.  Applicants will be notified when the EAD clock is stopped and understand which events allow the clock to continue running.

In defensive asylum cases, the EAD Clock starts when an asylum application is “lodged not filed.”  Under prior policy, the asylum EAD clock did not start until a complete application was filed at a hearing before an IJ.  That meant that applicants were unable to start their EAD clock for extended periods of time while waiting for an immigration court hearing date.  As a result of the ABT settlement, the date that a defensive asylum application is “lodged not filed” is the application filing date for the purpose of calculating EAD eligibility.  An application is lodged when it is complete and submitted to the EOIR clerk.  Although the application still must be filed before an IJ at a hearing, the EAD clock begins running at the time a completed application is submitted to the Court clerk.

Prolonged tolling for expedited non-detained cases.  Prior policy allowed IJs to stop the asylum EAD clock if the applicant declined an expedited hearing.  These hearings could be scheduled a mere 14 days out, which is often insufficient time to prepare an asylum case.  An alternative hearing date could be offered months or years later, during which the asylum EAD clock would be stopped.  OPPM 13-02 has been amended so that in an expedited case, a minimum of 45 days should be allowed for future hearing dates.  This gives applicants a more reasonable amount of time to prepare their case without having to stop the asylum EAD clock.  In detained cases, the minimum of 14 days will remain. 

Notice regarding consequences of missed asylum interviews.  If an asylum applicant fails to appear at an interview with USCIS without good cause, the EAD clock is permanently stopped.  If the case is then referred to EOIR, EOIR does not restart the clock.  Under the settlement agreement, USCIS will mail a “Failure to Appear” warning letter to asylum applicants as soon as possible after a missed interview.  The letter will describe the effect of a failure to appear on EAD eligibility and list procedural steps an applicant must take to establish “good cause” for failing to appear for the interview.  The asylum adjudication and EAD clocks may be restarted after resolution of missed interview based on exceptional circumstances.

Remanded asylum claims.  When the BIA remands an asylum claim to the immigration judge to re-adjudicate, the number of days elapsed between initial denial and the date of the BIA remand order will be credited toward the applicant’s EAD asylum clock.  Under prior practice, the asylum EAD clock might never be restarted once a case is remanded.  The settlement clarifies that the Asylum EAD clock restarts on the date of the BIA remand and should continue to run and stop based on the general EOIR policies.

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BIA Addresses Asylum Grant as Admission

BIA Addresses Asylum Grant as Admission

By Susan Schreiber

Does a grant of asylum constitute an "admission"?  Can an immigration judge make findings about an asylee's removability without first determining whether to terminate asylum status?  And is a Michigan "youthful trainee" disposition a conviction under immigration law?  These are the issues that the Board addressed in a recent decision regarding an asylee from Albania who was placed in removal proceedings after being convicted of controlled substance offenses and home invasion. Matter of V-X, 26 I&N Dec. 147 (BIA 2013).

In V-X, an Albanian national who was paroled into the United States in 2003 and granted derivative asylee status in 2004, was placed in removal proceedings and charged with three grounds of crime-based inadmissibility.  The charges were based on his 2007 offenses for delivery of marijuana, conspiracy to deliver marijuana, and having a vehicle for the purpose of keeping or selling controlled substances.  V-X had been sentenced for these offenses as a "youthful trainee" under a Michigan deferred adjudication scheme that provides for dismissal of charges after successful completion of probation.  He was then convicted in 2008 of home invasion, and sentenced to a period of probation as well as probationary incarceration.  In subsequent removal proceedings, the immigration judge found V-X inadmissible under INA § 212(a)(2) for being convicted of a crime of moral turpitude and a controlled substance violation, and also as a person believed to be a drug trafficker.  The Judge further concluded that V-X was ineligible for relief from removal.

On appeal, the Board first determined that the IJ improperly found V-X removable as charged and ineligible for relief without first addressing the issue of termination of his asylum status. Noting that the regulations at 8 CFR § 1208.24 allow for termination of asylum status in conjunction with removal proceedings, the Board found that ordinarily issues of removability and eligibility for relief should be deferred until a "threshold determination" is made regarding termination of asylum status.  Because the IJ failed to make such a determination, the Board ordered that the record be remanded for the entry of a new decision.

The Board next addressed the V-X's contention that the grant of asylum constituted an admission, thereby making him subject to grounds of deportability, not inadmissibility.  Rejecting this argument, the Board concluded that deportability charges under INA § 237(a) apply only to noncitizens who are "in and admitted to the United States" or granted LPR status, and that V-X does not fall within either category because he was paroled into the United States and is not an LPR.  In the Board's assessment, the grant of asylum confers a lawful status, but does not entail an admission, nor is it analogous to a grant of a lawful permanent resident status, which qualifies as an admission in certain circumstances.  See, e.g. Matter of Alyazji, 25 I&N Dec. 397 BIA 2011).  Acknowledging that language in Matter of S-A, 22 I&N Dec. 1328, 1337 (BIA 2000) refers to a noncitizen's "admission to the U.S. as an asylee," the Board characterized this as a misleading "passing statement" that was not part of the holding of the case.

Finally, while upholding the IJ’s finding that Michigan youthful trainee dispositions constitute convictions, the Board determined that a recent Supreme Court decision issued during the pendency of the appeal nevertheless required remanding the case to the IJ because of its potential impact on the assessment of termination of asylum and eligibility for relief.  As the Board noted, the Supreme Court decision in Moncrieffe v. Holder, 133 S. Ct 1678, addresses when a small-scale marijuana distribution offense is not an aggravated felony drug trafficking offense.  On remand, the IJ was directed to assess the issues of termination of asylum, inadmissibility as a drug trafficker under 212(a)(2)(C) and eligibility for a 209(c) waiver in light of the Moncrieffe decision.

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Recorded Webinar: Humanitarian Parole

Price: $25.00

USCIS may grant humanitarian parole to individuals to come to the U.S. for a temporary period of time because of emergency  or humanitarian reasons.   Who is eligible to apply?  How is the application submitted?  In this webinar we will discuss the requirements for humanitarian parole and the procedures for requesting parole and re-parole.  Join CLINIC Training and Legal Support Senior Attorneys Kristina Karpinski and Debbie Smith as they discuss these and other issues related to humanitarian parole. In addition,  CLINIC has invited Liz Runge, Branch Chief, Humanitarian Affairs Branch, USCIS International Operations Division, Department of Homeland Security to participate in the webinar.

Held on September 26th, 2013

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Asylee Information

In recent years, more than 24,000 people from over 100 nations have been granted asylum in the United States. Asylees have often suffered from persecution in their country of origin, forced migration, detention in the United States, and the uncertainty of the asylum adjudication process. Most confront systemic and bureaucratic barriers to resettlement and integration, and need well-coordinated and prompt social services to ease their transition.

CLINIC's National Asylee Information and Referral Line, which operated for 11 years, from 2001 to 2012, referred asylees to more than 500 local providers of resettlement services such as English language classes, job placement assistance, temporary cash assistance, and medical assistance. Funded by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and operated by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, the referral line provided a single, centralized source of accurate information about service eligibility and programs across the country that assist asylees with the resources they need for a smooth adjustment and early self-sufficiency.  Referral line counselors spoke 18 languages, including English, Spanish, Haitian-Creole, Chinese, French, Russian, and Arabic.

Over its 11 year history, the referral line project:

  • Provided one-on-one help to over 39,000 asylees (about 300 per month).
  • Created and maintained an up-to-date referral database (the first of its kind) of more than 500 local refugee service providers throughout the U.S.
  • Placed outreach information in the regional USCIS asylum offices and improved outreach to asylees in the immigration courts.
  • Created an informational guide to assist service providers who work with asylees. The guide contains information about the benefits and services for which asylees are eligible, including temporary cash and medical assistance, employment assistance, English classes, employment authorization, Social Security cards, I-94s, adjustment of status, travel authorization, change of address, family reunification, and federal student financial aid.




Benefits & Services

CLINIC guide, Asylee Eligibility for Resettlement Assistance 

ORR outreach flyer for asylees (available in 9 languages)

USCIS fee waiver application, Form I-912

USCIS policy guidance on fee waivers, March 2011

USCIS fact sheet on asylee travel


General Information

DHS Office of Immigration Statistics 2012 annual flow report on refugees and asylees

Executive Office for Immigration Review asylum statistics

USCIS asylum page

ORR policy memoranda on asylees


For more information about this project, please contact Laura Burdick at

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Post-Admission Issues for Asylees

What if your asylee client has an error on his/her I-94 card?  Do you know how to get it corrected? What if Social Security won’t issue your asylee client a card?  What if an employer demands documentation from your asylee client that he or she doesn’t have? Documentation problems can impede asylees’ employment, access to public benefits, and integration.  

This webinar presented by CLINIC attorney Jennie Guilfoyle and project coordinator Laura Burdick reviews how asylees obtain key documents and benefits, and how to address related problems or challenges such as errors or bureaucratic delays.  Topics include employment authorization, protection against alienage discrimination, driver’s licenses and state ID cards, eligibility for public benefits and social security numbers, travel authorization, and correcting errors on documents issued by USCIS.

Held September 23, 2010.

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At-Risk Reports

In 2000-2001, CLINIC published a series of reports on immigration issues based on numerous case studies. These are not current reports.

The reports identify, track, and examine the impact of our nation's laws and immigration policies on at-risk immigrants. They illustrate particularly compelling problems faced by immigrants, clear explanations of the law at the root of such problems, and other research.

To order hardcopies of these reports, please complete this form and mail a $10 check or money order to CLINIC, 415 Michigan Ave. NE, Suite 200, Washington DC 20017.