Immigration Benefits and Relief

Our legal system rests upon the principle that everyone is entitled to due process of law and a meaningful opportunity to be heard. But for far too long, the immigration system has failed to provide noncitizens with a system of justice that lives up to this standard. Learn about ways in which the immigration system could ensure that all noncitizens have a fair day in court.  

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All Immigration Benefits and Relief Content

August 18, 2014
A waiver of removal under INA § 212(h) is not available to an individual who committed an aggravated felony within five years of having previously been "admitted" to the United States as a lawful permanent resident. The Council, with AILA, filed amicus briefs in numerous Courts of Appeals, successfully arguing that the § 212(h) bar to waiver eligibility applies only to noncitizens who were admitted in LPR status at a port of entry, as distinct from those who adjusted to LPR status post-entry.
Duran Gonzalez is a Ninth Circuit-wide class action challenging DHS’ refusal to follow Perez-Gonzalez v. Ashcroft, 379 F.3d 783 (9th Cir. 2004). In Perez-Gonzalez, the Ninth Circuit had said that individuals who had been removed or deported could apply for adjustment of status (under INA § 245(i)) along with an accompanying I-212 waiver application. In Duran Gonzales v. DHS, 508 F.3d 1227 (9th Cir. 2007), the Ninth Circuit overturned Perez-Gonzalez, deferring to the BIA’s holding that individuals who have previously been removed or deported are not eligible to apply for adjustment of status. See Matter of Torres-Garcia, 23 I&N Dec. 866 (BIA 2006). The Court subsequently said, however, that some plaintiffs may be able to establish that the new rule should not apply retroactively.
February 3, 2014
The statement shares our analysis and research regarding the economic and other benefits of the deferred action programs, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA).
October 3, 2013
One requirement of the age-preservation formula of the CSPA is that the beneficiary must have “sought to acquire” lawful permanent resident status within one year of the visa becoming available. INA § 203(h)(1). The Council’s amicus brief argued for a more expansive interpretation of “sought to acquire” than the BIA’s interpretation in Matter of O. Vasquez, 25 I&N Dec. 817 (BIA 2012). On July 23, 2014, the court issued a decision upholding the Board’s interpretation but remanding the case after finding that, under the facts presented, the retroactive application of Matter of O. Vasquez to the petitioner would work a manifest injustice. Velasquez-Garcia v. Holder, 760 F.3d 571 (7th Cir. 2014).
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 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.

Following the Obama Administration’s February 2011 announcement that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional, AILA and the Council, joined by dozens of other organizations, urged the Administration ...

Following the Obama Administration’s February 2011 announcement that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional, AILA and the Council, joined by dozens of other organizations, urged the Administration to adopt interim measures in immigration cases involving marriages to a lesbian or gay noncitizen. Such interim measures are needed to maintain the status quo until there is a final judicial or legislative resolution regarding Section 3 of DOMA.
August 5, 2013
On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in United States v. Windsor, holding that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. This practice advisory highlights some of the issues LGBT families will face in a post-DOMA world.
May 2, 2013
In Moncrieffe, the Supreme Court held that a state drug conviction is not an aggravated felony when the statute of conviction extends to the social sharing of a small amount of marijuana. This Practice Advisory discusses the holding of the case, the decision’s potential broader implications, strategies for noncitizen criminal defendants, and steps that lawyers should take immediately in pending or already concluded removal proceedings affected by Moncrieffe.
December 21, 2012
This Practice Advisory contains practical and legal suggestions for individuals seeking to return to the United States after they have prevailed on a petition for review or an administrative motion to reopen or reconsider to the immigration court or Board of Immigration Appeals.
April 5, 2012
This Practice Advisory describes the Supreme Court's decision in Vartelas v. Holder, holding that the Fleuti doctrine still applies to lawful permanent residents (LPRs) with pre-IIRIRA convictions. This means that LPRs with convictions before April 1, 1997 who travel abroad do not, upon their return, face inadmissibility if their trip was brief, casual and innocent. The Advisory offers strategies for LPRs who are affected by the decision and discusses some of the decision's other potential favorable impacts.
December 16, 2011
This Practice Advisory describes the Supreme Court’s decision in Judulang v. Holder, which rejected the BIA's "comparable grounds" test for § 212(c) relief, and offers strategies for lawful permanent residents and others who may be affected by it.
March 31, 2010
There are two main situations where individuals who were ordered removed or deported in absentia can reopen their cases: (1) they did not receive notice of the hearing, and (2) they did not appear at their hearing because of exceptional circumstances. This Practice Advisory addresses the elements and requirements for an in absentia motion to reopen in both contexts.
December 26, 2008

This Q&A informs lawyers about some of the most important aspects of the December 18, 2008 voluntary departure rules adopted by Executive Office for Immigration Review.

April 20, 2005
This Practice Advisory addresses situations in which a court might excuse a late-filed petition for review and discusses other administrative and federal court options for remedying the failure to timely file a petition for review. The Advisory also provides an overview of 28 U.S.C. § 1631, which authorizes courts to transfer a case to cure a lack of jurisdiction when an action is filed in the wrong federal court.
April 6, 2005
On April 1, 2005, EOIR’s Background and Security Check regulations went into effect. The interim rule bars IJs and the BIA from granting most forms of relief until DHS has informed them that security checks are completed. This Practice Advisory provides basic information about the requirements and procedures under the interim rule and highlights the major changes to BIA procedures.
October 19, 2004
Pursuant to the Supreme Court’s decision INS v. St. Cyr, the Department of Justice (DOJ) published its final rule on procedures for applying for section 212(c) relief. This Practice Advisory summarizes the rule and describes who can apply for § 212(c) relief under the rule. In addition, it discusses strategies and arguments to assist individuals who are barred under the rule.
September 11, 2019

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently proposed a rule that will further delay asylum seekers’ ability to receive work authorization. Under current law, USCIS must grant or...

September 10, 2019

The strongest hurricane to ever hit the Bahamas ripped through the islands last week. In the wake of such devastation, it would not be unusual for the U.S. government to announce temporary...

August 28, 2019

Without so much as a formal announcement, the Trump administration sent letters to families of sick children containing a dire warning: leave the country in 33 days or face deportation and a years...

August 15, 2019

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently released more details about its plan to close its international offices. In an August 9 memorandum, USCIS clarified that all but seven of...

August 5, 2019

The Trump administration announced on Friday that it is ending a family reunification program for Filipino World War II veterans. This places a needless burden on our country’s veterans, many of...

July 8, 2019

The Trump administration is reportedly seeking to end important programs that protect the family members of active duty service members and veterans from deportation. NPR reports that U.S....

July 2, 2019

After months of speculation, last week the Supreme Court agreed to review three cases challenging the Trump administration’s decision to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The...

June 19, 2019

USCIS is beginning to transfer cases out of its busiest offices to even out the processing times across the country. Transferred cases will go to USCIS offices that have more manageable workloads...

June 13, 2019

The U.S. State Department announced a new rule last week that changes the Diversity Visa Program, a lottery system that grants 50,000 foreign nationals the opportunity to apply for an immigrant...

June 7, 2019

Applications for permanent residence and other immigration benefits are taking longer than ever to process. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency responsible for...

May 26, 2015

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

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 3, 2020

The American Immigration Lawyers Association and American Immigration Council submitted the following comments in response to the above-referenced Notice and Request for Comments on the Department...

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)...

December 13, 2019
This Practice Advisory provides immigration attorneys with arguments as to why USCIS’ and ICE trial attorneys’ interpretation of the relevance of MTINA is wrong.
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...

November 12, 2019

Under current U.S. immigration law, the immigration service must make a decision on work permit applications filed by asylum seekers within 30 days of their application. The Trump administration...

November 11, 2019

On November 12, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments regarding the legality of President Trump’s 2017 rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative. The...

November 7, 2019

The Trump administration is proposing a new rule that would delay work authorization for people seeking asylum in the United States. The move is drawing opposition from advocates across the...

October 31, 2019

At a House Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee Hearing on Tuesday, Congress heard testimony from experts about the impact of recent immigration policies affecting foreign-born military members,...

October 30, 2019

The cost of filing an application for citizenship—usually a hefty $725—has long been a barrier for some immigrants. Now, a change to the naturalization process may leave even more people priced...

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