The Center for DREAMers is now closed as the two-year grant has come to an end in October 2023. We are grateful for all of the incredible work we were able to accomplish through the Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment Foundation. This website will remain available for its resources and download library, however, it will no longer be updated.
The center for DREAMers aims to provide legal representation at no cost for DACAmented recipients across Wisconsin. This involves direct representation as well as community presentations to inform the community through legal clinics.
Through collaboration with the Immigrant Justice Clinic, the Center for DREAMers will provide representation that focuses on:
- DACA renewals
- Applications for Advance Parole
- *Collateral applications, including:
- U Visa
- Employment-based immigrant visas
- Deportation defense
Legal Resources Definitions
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What Is DACA
DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. DACA is a use of prosecutorial discretion to “defer removal action,” or delay removal from the country, against an individual for a certain period of time. While DACA does not provide lawful status, applicants may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal. They are also eligible for work authorization and may qualify for other benefits such as obtaining a driver’s license.
Who Qualifies for DACA*
You may request DACA if you:
- Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
- Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
- Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
- Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
- Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012, meaning that:
- You never had a lawful immigration status on or before June 15, 2012, or
- Any lawful immigration status or parole that you obtained prior to June 15, 2012, had expired as of June 15, 2012;
- Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
- Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Currently, the DACA program continues for those who currently or formerly had DACA, but is closed to those who would be applying for the first time.
There is currently a $495 filing fee for Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and there may be additional costs for legal assistance when filing.
What Is Advance Parole
DACA recipients may apply for consideration of “Advance Parole,” where USCIS may allow an immigrant to travel outside the United States and return lawfully. This gives DACA recipients the opportunity to travel abroad and return. However, due to the discretionary nature of Advance Parole, it’s important to note that there is no guarantee that recipients will be allowed to return to the U.S. once abroad, and each applicant will have to assess the risks and benefits given their individual circumstances.
Who Qualifies for Advance Parole*
DACA recipients may seek Advance Parole for humanitarian, educational, or employment purposes. These may include study or work abroad and urgent family matters such as visiting a gravely ill family member. Immigrants with other status are not restricted to these and may be eligible for Advance Parole for other purposes. Individuals with a pending DACA application or expired DACA status cannot apply for Advance Parole.
There is currently a $575 filing fee for Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, and there may be additional costs for legal assistance when filing.
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)*
What is SIJS
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) is a form of relief available to certain undocumented immigrants under twenty-one years of age who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned by one or both parents. SIJS allows these individuals to apply for and obtain legal permanent residence (green card) in the United States by waiving several types of inadmissibility that would otherwise prevent them from obtaining their residence, such as unlawful entry, working without authorization, status as a public charge, and certain immigration violations. SIJS also allows individuals to obtain work authorization with their residency and provides a path to U.S. citizenship.
Who Qualifies for SIJS*
To qualify for SIJS, an individual must meet the following criteria:
- The applicant must be under 21 years old;
- Be currently living in the United States (cannot apply from outside the country to come to the United States on SIJ classification);
- Must be unmarried;
- Have a valid juvenile court order issued by a state court in the United States which finds that:
- You are dependent on the court, or
- in the custody of a state agency or department or an individual or entity appointed by the court;
- You cannot be reunified with one or both of your parents because of ANY of the following:
- Neglect or
- A similar basis under state law; AND
- It is not in your best interests to return to the country of nationality or last habitual residence of you or your parents;
- Be eligible for USCIS consent. This means that you must have sought the juvenile court order to obtain relief from abuse, neglect, abandonment or a similar basis under state law and not primarily to obtain an immigration benefit
- Have written consent from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)/ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to the court’s jurisdiction if:
- You are currently in the custody of HHS, AND
- The juvenile court order also changes your custody status or placement.
There is a $0 fee (exempt) for SIJS, but there may be related filing fees for relevant forms that can be waived if eligible.
What is U Visa
The U nonimmigrant status (U Visa) is set aside for victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity. U Visa recipients may obtain lawful status for up to four years, work authorization, derivative benefits for qualifying family members, and eligibility to adjust status to a lawful permanent resident after three years with a path to citizenship.
Who Qualifies for U Visa*
You may be eligible for a U nonimmigrant visa if:
- You are the victim of qualifying criminal activity (including but not limited to Domestic Violence, Murder, Sexual Assault);
- You have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of criminal activity;
- You have information about the criminal activity. If you are under the age of 16 or unable to provide information due to a disability, a parent or guardian may possess the information about the crime on your behalf;
- You were helpful, are helpful, or are likely to be helpful to law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime. If you are under the age of 16 or unable to provide information due to a disability, a parent, guardian, or next friend may assist law enforcement on your behalf;
- The crime occurred in the United States or violated U.S. laws;
- You are admissible to the United States. If you are not admissible, you may apply for a waiver on a Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant.
There is a $0 fee (exempt) for U Visa, but there may be related filing fees for relevant forms that can be waived if eligible.
What is Asylum
There are two types of asylum applications: affirmative and defensive.
In affirmative asylum applications, an individual has not been placed in removal proceedings before an immigration judge, while in defensive asylum applications, the individual has been placed in removal proceedings before an immigration judge. If affirmative, the individual may appear before a USCIS asylum officer for a non-adversarial interview after filing for asylum. A defensive applicant appears before an immigration judge with the Executive Office for Immigration Review for an adversarial, court-like hearing.
If approved, individuals may be allowed to live and work legally in the U.S. and apply for lawful permanent residence after one year of asylee status, as well as request derivative asylum status for their spouse or children if listed on their asylum application.
Who Qualifies for Asylum
Eligibility for asylum is complex, but criteria includes:
- Having suffered past persecution or fear that you will suffer future persecution on account of:
- Membership in a particular social group
- Political opinion
- You may apply for asylum if you are at a port of entry or in the United States. You may apply for asylum regardless of your immigration status and within one year of your arrival to the United States.
- You may qualify for an exception if you show changed circumstances materially affecting your asylum eligibility for asylum or extraordinary circumstances relating to your delay in filing.
- You may be barred from applying for asylum if you previously applied for asylum and were denied by the Immigration Judge or Board of Immigration Appeals, unless you demonstrate that there are changed circumstances which affect your eligibility for asylum.
- You may also be barred if you could be removed to a safe third country to a two-party or multi-party agreement. Currently, the United States has a safe third country agreement with Canada that does not apply to you if you are applying for asylum affirmatively with USCIS
- There may be other bars to asylum based on applicant’s unique circumstances.
There is a $0 fee (exempt) for asylum filings, but there may be related filing fees for relevant forms such as work authorization.
What are Employment-based Immigrant Visas
Every fiscal year (October 1st – September 30th), approximately 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas are made available for eligible individuals to immigrate to the U.S. for job offers in identified occupations in which U.S. workers are in short supply or in other specific categories. Certain spouses and children may be derivatives under employment-based immigrants.
Who Qualifies for Employment-based Visas*
These visas are divided into five preference categories with specific quotas, skill requirements and per-country caps:
- Employment First Preference (E1): Priority Worker and Persons of Extraordinary Ability. You may be eligible for an employment-based, first-preference visa if you:
- are an noncitizen of extraordinary ability,
- are an outstanding professor or researcher, or
- are a certain multinational executive or manager
- Employment Second Preference (E2): Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional Ability. You may be eligible for an employment-based, second preference visa if you are:
- a member of the professions holding an advanced degree or its equivalent, or
- a foreign national who has exceptional ability.
- Employment Third Preference (E3): Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Unskilled Workers (Other Workers). You may be eligible for this immigrant visa preference category if you are a skilled worker, professional, or other worker:
- “Skilled workers” are persons whose jobs require a minimum of 2 years training or experience, not of a temporary or seasonal nature. The skilled worker must meet the educational, training, or experience requirements of the job opportunity. Relevant post-secondary education may be considered as training
- “Professionals” are persons whose job requires at least a U.S. baccalaureate or foreign equivalent degree and are a member of the professions
- The “other workers” subcategory is for persons performing unskilled labor requiring less than 2 years training, education, or experience, not of a temporary or seasonal nature
- Employment Fourth Preference (E4): Certain Special Immigrants. You may be eligible for an employment-based, fourth preference (EB-4) visa if you are a special immigrant. The following special immigrants are eligible for the fourth preference visa:
- Religious workers;
- Special Immigrant Juveniles;
- Certain broadcasters;
- Certain retired officers or employees of a G-4 international organization or NATO-6 civilian employees and their family members;
- Certain employees of the U.S. government who are abroad and their family members;
- Members of the U.S. armed forces;
- Panama Canal company or Canal Zone government employees;
- Certain physicians licensed and practicing medicine in a U.S. state as of Jan. 9, 1978;
- Afghan or Iraqi translators or interpreters;
- Iraqis who were employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government; and
- Afghans who were employed by the U.S. government or International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)
- Employment Fifth Preference (E5): Immigrant Investors. Investors (and their spouses and unmarried children under 21) are eligible to apply for a Green Card (permanent residence) if they:
- Make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States; and
- Plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers.
Fees vary across types of filing, but are typically charged for most forms in addition to fees for other requirements such as medical examination and required vaccinations.
What is Deportation Defense
Deportation defense options are options available to individuals in removal or deportation proceedings. Deportation defense may include seeking humanitarian relief such as asylum, or some other form of relief such as cancellation of removal proceedings, prosecutorial discretion, or in some cases, voluntary departure.
Who Qualifies for Deportation Defense*
Anyone in removal/deportation proceedings may want to seek deportation defense, including but not limited to:
- Cancellation of Removal:
- May happen when an applicant has their deportation proceeding canceled and obtains lawful permanent resident status if they can establish:
- Physical presence in the U.S. for at least 10 years before Immigration Court proceedings began;
- Good moral character for 10 years; and
- That a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident child, spouse, or parent will suffer extreme and exceptionally unusual hardship if the individual is not allowed to remain in the U.S.
- Those who file EOIR-42B Cancellation of Removal are eligible for a work permit while the application is pending
- May happen when an applicant has their deportation proceeding canceled and obtains lawful permanent resident status if they can establish:
- Prosecutorial Discretion:
- In some circumstances, the government attorney may exercise their discretion and close or terminate removal proceedings against an individual.
- The best practice is to request Prosecutorial Discretion in writing with evidence to the Department of Homeland Security.
- In some cases, a person will be eligible for work authorization even after a case is administratively closed, but this depends on other applications on file.
- Voluntary Departure:
- If no other deportation defense options are available, or in the event, a person is eligible to return to his or her home country and obtain a visa to return to the U.S., they may want to request voluntary departure instead of being ordered removed or deported.
- This means that the individual will not have deportation or removal on their record and may attempt to return to the U.S. in the future through other forms of relief or applications.
- Voluntary Departure is not available to everyone in removal proceedings but may be the best option for some
Fees vary depending on the circumstances and type of deportation defense relief.
*Please seek legal assistance from an attorney or accredited representative before proceeding with any requests for relief. There may be further information in your case that could affect your eligibility beyond these general guidelines.
As of October 2023 the Center for DREAMers at UW-Madison will be closed and will no longer be collaborating with the Immigrant Justice Clinic. However, please contact the Immigrant Justice Clinic to inquire bout DACA and immigration-related questions.