Forms of Relief
Many people who might be able to apply for immigration relief don’t know it. Here is some information about different forms of relief. Make sure that you talk to a trusted lawyer (see below) and be honest with them about your situation. The situation is always changing so you need good advice from somebody who is more up to date than this website.
- Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS): This form of relief is for young people, under 21 and unmarried, who have been abandoned, abused or neglected by one or both parents. The standard of abuse is low; any young person who is not living with both parents might qualify and should see a lawyer to get advice. See resources from: Empire Justice Center, Safe Passage Project, NYC Administration for Children’s Services
- U-visa: A special visa for victims of crime that eventually leads to a green card. To qualify young people or their parents have to be the victim of a qualifying crime and have helped the police. See resources from: Immigrant Legal Resource Center
- Family Based Immigration: Young people can get a green card through close relatives who are citizens or permanent residents, specifically a parent, a spouse or sometimes a sibling. It’s easier if the young person overstayed a visa than if they crossed the border without documentation or government permission.
- Temporary Protected Status [TPS]: For people from certain countries that have experienced disasters. The U.S. government has to have designated the country for TPS.
Legal Services Referrals for Youth in New York City
Legal Aid (Immigration Services Unit)
Sanctuary for Families Immigration Project
Central American Legal Assistance
Connecting to an organization that organizes in and for the immigrant community is an essential step to advocating for yourself. If you qualify for relief, being involved in an organization that is led by people who understand your situation will help support you with all of the struggles and decisions along the way. For example, many organizations are well connected to quality, free lawyers and can help you avoid the unethical for-profit lawyers who rip off so many immigrants.
Working with a community based organization is also valuable for people who don’t have a pathway to legal status. Current immigration laws leave out millions of people nationwide including many young people. You can still benefit from connecting with organizations that help you grow your networks of support while fighting for change.
Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM)
Arab American Association of NY