Immigration Benefits and Relief

The immigration laws and regulations provide some avenues to apply for lawful status from within the U.S. or to seek relief from deportation.  The eligibility requirements for these benefits and relief can be stringent, and the immigration agencies often adopt overly restrictive interpretations of the requirements.  Learn about advocacy and litigation that has been and can be undertaken to ensure that noncitizens have a fair chance to apply for the benefits and relief for which they are eligible.  

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The complaint, co-filed with the Northwest Immigrants Rights Project, Gibbs Houston Pauw, and the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, was submitted on behalf of a class of untold numbers of asylum applicants wrongfully denied work authorization due to unlawful agency policies and practices. The settlement agreed to by the parties was approved by the Court and applies to the entire class.
September 3, 2008
Following DHS's adoption of an interim regulation that gave USCIS jurisdiction over the adjustment application of an "arriving alien" in removal proceedings, the Council filed amicus briefs with the BIA and Federal Courts challenging the BIA's general refusal to reopen removal proceedings so that an "arriving alien" with an unexecuted final order could adjust with USCIS. The BIA rejected our arguments in Matter of Yauri, 25 I&N Dec. 103 (BIA 2009). Meanwhile, however, USCIS made clear that it retained jurisdiction over these cases despite the final order.
February 24, 2005
The Council filed amicus briefs in numerous courts of appeals challenging the pre-2005 regulatory bar to adjustment of status for “arriving aliens” in removal proceedings. Several courts accepted our arguments that the regulation violated the adjustment of status statute. Succar v. Ashcroft, 394 F.3d 8 (1st Cir. 2005); Zheng v. Gonzales, 422 F.3d 98 (3d Cir. 2005); Bona v. Ashcroft, 425 F.3d 663 (9th Cir. 2005). Ultimately, DHS withdrew the challenged regulation and replaced it with one providing USCIS with jurisdiction to adjust the status of an "arriving alien" in removal proceedings. 71 Fed. Reg. 27585 (2006). The amicus brief filed in Bona v. Ashcroft is representative of the briefs filed in other circuits.
The American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association submitted suggestions to USCIS regarding the effective implementation of the renewal process.
This memorandum, which was released by the American Immigration Council and co-signed by two general counsels of the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, offers an overview of the scope of executive branch authority and outlines specific steps the Administration could take to forestall removals in sympathetic cases.
The American Immigration Council along with the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, Educators For Fair Consideration, the National Immigration Law Center, United We Dream, and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. offered comments in response to DHS’s proposed new DACA application form and instructions.

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

The American Immigration Council along with American Immigration Lawyers Association, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, National Council of La Raza, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and United We Dream, submitted proposals to USCIS seeking certain modifications to the DACA Frequently Asked Questions page.

The Council submitted comments on June 12, 2006, on the interim regulations that lifted the ban on “arriving aliens” being able to adjust their status if they are in removal proceedings.

The American Immigration Council along with American Immigration Lawyers Association, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, National Immigration Law Center, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, New York Immigration Coalition, and United We Dream, submitted proposals to USCIS seeking certain modifications to the DACA Frequently Asked Questions page.
June 24, 2020

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

June 18, 2020

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

June 15, 2020

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

May 14, 2020

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

April 24, 2020

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

March 25, 2020

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

February 12, 2020

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

January 22, 2020

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

January 2, 2020

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

November 13, 2019

The Supreme Court heard arguments on November 12 in three cases challenging President Trump’s attempted rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative. The Court’s...

February 17, 2015

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

November 21, 2014

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

November 6, 2014

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

July 29, 2014

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

July 20, 2014

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

May 22, 2014

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

Publication Date: 
August 3, 2021
Immigration law is highly complex. Determining which non-citizens are “lawfully” or “unlawfully” present and whether they should be allowed to stay in the United States are complex matters which...
Publication Date: 
August 2, 2021
This fact sheet from the Council provides an overview of how current immigration law allows certain undocumented immigrants to become Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) without first having to leave...
July 19, 2021

Nearly a decade after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to provide protections to undocumented immigrants brought here as...

July 16, 2021

Attorney General Merrick Garland vacated Matter of Castro-Tum on July 15, reviving a key tool to help judges prioritize cases in the overburdened immigration court system and allow people facing...

July 16, 2021
U.S. Judge Andrew Hanen of the Southern District of Texas ordered the Biden administration to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
June 30, 2021
This practice advisory by the Council and partners provides an overview of the Niz-Chavez v. Garland decision and its impact on eligibility for cancellation of removal; eligibility for post-conclusion voluntary departure and broader applications of the decision.
June 15, 2021

My name is Hali Calzadillas-Andujo and I’m originally from Chihuahua, Mexico. I first came to the United States with my mother and siblings when I was eight years old. I didn’t even know what it...

May 19, 2021
This Practice Advisory provides a broad overview of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), including how to make a FOIA request and how to appeal an inadequate response.
April 29, 2021

When President Biden took office, he inherited a legal immigration system that was teetering on the brink of collapse. Delays within U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have reached...

Publication Date: 
April 29, 2021
This report analyzes the most significant changes to the legal immigration system made by the Biden administration during its first 100 days in office, and makes recommendations to foster a fair and...

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