Navigating the complex world of U.S. immigration can be challenging, especially when facing the possibility of removal from the country. It’s crucial to understand the various appeals and relief options available to you that could help you obtain immigration status in the United States. In this article, we will discuss five such options that you might be able to pursue in order to improve your chances of success.

Firstly, it’s essential to recognize that immigration laws and procedures can change over time, so staying informed on current regulations is crucial in determining the best course of action for your situation. By exploring these potential avenues for relief and working with a knowledgeable immigration attorney, you can increase your likelihood of securing a favorable outcome.

As you learn about these five appeals and relief options, remember that each situation is unique, and the outcome will depend on your individual circumstances. Armed with this information, you’ll be better equipped to make informed decisions and take the necessary steps to continue your journey towards obtaining U.S. immigration status.

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Understanding Immigration Status

When navigating the complex world of immigration in the United States, it’s crucial for you to understand the various immigration statuses and the options available to secure or maintain a legal status. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is responsible for handling immigration matters, and it falls under the Department of Homeland Security1.

Affirmative Asylum Processing: If you’re seeking safety and refuge in the United States, you can apply for asylum through the affirmative process. This involves submitting an application with USCIS and attending an interview with an asylum officer.

Asylum Merits Interview: If you’re already in the process of removal from the United States and you express a fear of returning to your home country, the authorities might schedule an Asylum Merits Interview after a positive credible fear determination2.

Defensive Asylum Processing: If you’re in removal proceedings, you may be able to apply for asylum through the defensive process, which involves presenting your case before an immigration judge.

Cancellation of Removal: Another option that might help you secure U.S. immigration status is the Cancellation of Removal. This form of relief applies to both lawful permanent residents and non-permanent residents who meet specific criteria. If granted, your status will change from “deportable” to “lawfully admitted for permanent residence.”

Adjustment of Status: If you’re already in the United States but don’t have a legal status, you might be eligible for an Adjustment of Status. This process allows you to apply for lawful permanent resident status (also known as a Green Card) without leaving the country.

In summary, it’s essential for you to be well-informed about the various immigration statuses and relief options available in the United States. By understanding the processes and requirements, you can better navigate the complicated immigration system and seek the most appropriate pathway towards a legal status in the country.

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Asylum and Refugee Status


If you fear persecution in your home country, you may apply for asylum in the United States. To be eligible for asylum, you need to demonstrate that the persecution you face is based on your race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

When applying for asylum, you have two options: affirmative asylum processing and defensive asylum processing. In the affirmative process, you must submit your application to USCIS within one year of your arrival in the U.S. Once your application is received, you will have an interview to determine your eligibility. If you’re in removal proceedings, you may apply for defensive asylum through the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR).

During your asylum process, you will need to prove your “credible fear” of persecution in your home country. This can involve providing documentation, statements, and other evidence to support your claim. It’s essential to be thorough and honest during this process to strengthen your chances of being granted asylum.


Refugee status is similar to asylum because it provides protection for people who have been persecuted or fear persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. However, the primary difference is that refugee applications are made outside of the United States. You can apply for refugee status through a U.S. embassy or consulate in your country of origin or a neighboring country.

The U.S. has specific annual caps on the number of refugees it admits. In 2021, for instance, 11,411 refugees were admitted, while for fiscal year 2022, the cap has been increased to 125,000 refugees.

In both asylum and refugee cases, it’s crucial to understand your rights and responsibilities. If granted asylum or refugee status, you have the right to work in the United States and may apply for permanent residency (a green card) after one year. Additionally, you can petition to bring your immediate family members to the U.S. under the same status.

When seeking asylum or refugee status, it’s important to be confident, knowledgeable, and clear during the application process. Don’t hesitate to seek legal advice, and always ensure that you meet all necessary requirements to improve your chances of success.

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Adjustment of Status and Green Card

Adjustment of Status

Adjusting your status allows you to apply for lawful permanent resident status (also known as getting a Green Card) when you are present in the United States. By doing so, you can obtain a Green Card without having to return to your home country to complete visa processing1. To be eligible for adjustment of status, you must meet certain criteria, such as entering the U.S. lawfully and not staying beyond the expiration date on your I-94 after entering on a visa2.

The adjustment of status process typically includes completing the necessary paperwork, attending a biometrics appointment, going through a medical examination, and participating in an interview with a USCIS officer. Keep in mind that entering the U.S. unlawfully or overstaying your visa may make it difficult for you to qualify for adjustment of status. However, some exceptions may apply2.

Green Card

A Green Card, or a Lawful Permanent Resident Card, grants you permission to live and work permanently in the United States. As a Green Card holder, you become a lawful permanent resident and can enjoy various benefits such as access to employment, healthcare, and educational resources. It is an essential step towards eventually applying for U.S. citizenship, should you choose to do so.

There are several ways to obtain a Green Card, including through family sponsorship, employment, or in some cases, refugee or asylee status. The process for applying for a Green Card will depend on your unique situation, such as your current immigration status and the reason for your application.

Keep in mind that being a Green Card holder also comes with certain responsibilities, such as paying taxes, following the laws of the United States, and maintaining your legal status. You must also renew your Green Card before it expires to continue enjoying its benefits.

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Cancellation of Removal and Judicial Review

When facing removal proceedings, you have the option to seek relief by applying for cancellation of removal. This is a discretionary form of relief that, if granted, allows you to avoid deportation and adjust your immigration status to that of a lawful permanent resident. Eligible individuals in proceedings before an immigration court can qualify for various immigration benefits, which provide relief from removal.

To qualify for cancellation of removal, you must meet specific criteria set by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). These criteria vary depending on whether you are a lawful permanent resident (LPR) or a nonimmigrant. During the removal proceedings, the immigration judge will consider your case based on factors such as your length of stay in the U.S., your moral character, and your family ties in the country.

As a nonimmigrant or undocumented individual, you can apply for non-LPR cancellation of removal if you meet the following requirements:

  • You have been physically present in the U.S. for a continuous period of at least ten years.
  • You have exhibited good moral character during that time.
  • You have not been convicted of certain crimes that would make you ineligible for this relief.
  • Your removal would result in exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to your U.S. citizen or LPR spouse, parent, or child.

If you disagree with the immigration judge’s decision, you can request a judicial review of your case. This is an appeal process in which a higher court examines the decision made by the immigration court. It is essential to adhere to specific deadlines and procedures to ensure your appeal is properly filed and considered.

Trying to navigate the complex world of immigration law can be overwhelming, but being well-informed and proactive can significantly increase your chances of successfully obtaining relief from removal. It is crucial to seek the guidance of an experienced immigration attorney to help you understand your options and guide you through the process.

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Additional Relief and Appeal Options

Voluntary Departure

Voluntary Departure is a form of discretionary relief that allows you to leave the United States voluntarily, rather than facing forced removal or deportation. The Department of Justice grants this option under certain conditions, such as good moral character and the ability to pay for your own departure. By choosing this option, you may avoid some of the harsher consequences of deportation, like lengthy bars to re-entry.

When considering Voluntary Departure, it is essential to consult with an immigration attorney to understand your rights and the risks involved. In some cases, you may be eligible for other forms of relief that could allow you to remain in the United States.

Temporary Protected Status

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a temporary immigration status granted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to eligible nationals of designated countries experiencing ongoing armed conflicts, natural disasters, or other extraordinary conditions. TPS provides you with protection from removal and allows you to work legally in the United States.

To be eligible for TPS, you must demonstrate that you are a national of a designated country, have been continuously present in the United States since the effective date of the designation, and meet other eligibility requirements set by the U.S. Government. Keep in mind that TPS is only a temporary form of relief and does not lead to permanent residency.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a program initiated by the U.S. Government that provides temporary relief from deportation and work authorization for qualified young immigrants who arrived in the United States as children. To be eligible for DACA, you must meet specific requirements, such as being under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, continuously residing in the United States since June 15, 2007, and being a student or honorably discharged veteran, among others.

If granted DACA, you receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and are temporarily protected from removal. However, DACA is a discretionary form of relief that does not provide a path to permanent residency and can be subject to changes or termination by the U.S. Government. It’s essential to stay informed about the current status of DACA and explore other available immigration options with the help of an immigration attorney.

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International Treaties and Protections

As someone seeking U.S. immigration status, you may be eligible for relief options based on international treaties and protections. Various agreements, such as the Convention Against Torture, can offer you a path to obtain immigration status.

The Convention Against Torture (CAT) is an international human rights treaty aimed at preventing and punishing acts of torture. If you can demonstrate that you would face a significant risk of being tortured upon return to your home country, you may be eligible for protection under CAT. This relief from deportation is granted in cases where there is a substantial likelihood of torture, regardless of your immigration status or criminal history.

Countries like El Salvador and Honduras are known for high levels of violence and human rights abuses. If you are originally from one of these countries, you may have a stronger case for protection under international treaties. Presenting a well-documented claim based on your fear of persecution or torture can significantly improve your chances of obtaining immigration status in the U.S.

Collaborating with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can also be helpful in your pursuit of immigration status. If you provide any vital information about criminal activities or human rights abuses in your home country, your cooperation can lead to immigration relief options. Keep in mind that working with ICE may not guarantee immigration benefits, but it can certainly enhance your case.

In conclusion, being aware of international treaties and protections and how they relate to your specific situation is a crucial aspect of navigating the complex U.S. immigration system. Make sure to consult an immigration attorney or expert to explore all available relief options and to prepare a strong case in your favor.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the process for appealing a USCIS decision?

If you disagree with a USCIS decision, you can file an appeal or motion. Form I-290B is used to file an appeal or motion to reopen or reconsider a USCIS decision. You should review the decision notice and follow the instructions provided. It’s essential to adhere to the deadlines and provide all necessary documentation. For more information, visit the Appeals Modernization page.

How long does it typically take for an appeal to be processed?

The processing time for appeals can vary depending on the type of case, the complexity of the matter, and the workload of the adjudicating officer. While specific processing times are not guaranteed, it may take several months or even a couple of years for a decision to be reached. You can check the USCIS processing times page for updated estimates.

What are the eligibility requirements for an I-601 waiver?

An I-601 waiver, also known as the Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility, allows certain individuals who are ineligible for a visa or other immigration benefits to apply for a waiver of specific grounds of inadmissibility. Eligibility depends on the specific ground being waived, your relationship with a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and whether you can demonstrate that your denial of admission would cause extreme hardship to your qualifying relative. More details can be found on the USCIS I-601 page.

What are some common grounds for filing a motion to reopen a case?

A motion to reopen a case can be filed if you have new facts or evidence that were not available at the time of the initial decision, or if new legal grounds have emerged. Common reasons for filing a motion to reopen include:

  • Changes in the law that could affect your case
  • Newly-discovered evidence that was unavailable during the initial proceedings
  • Clerical errors or mistakes made by USCIS in the original decision

Remember that timing is crucial when filing a motion to reopen, as there may be strict deadlines based on the specific situation.

What happens if my I-290B appeal is denied?

If your I-290B appeal is denied, you may have a few options, depending on the circumstances of your case:

  1. You can file a motion to reopen or reconsider the decision with USCIS.
  2. If you are in removal proceedings, you may request that the Immigration Judge review the decision.
  3. You can consult with an immigration attorney to discuss possible alternatives and strategies to move forward.

Keep in mind that your options may vary depending on your specific case, so seeking professional legal advice is crucial.

What updates are there in immigration and TPS policies?

Immigration and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) policies are subject to change based on federal laws and regulations, court decisions, and administrative actions. It is essential to stay informed about any updates through reputable sources, such as the official USCIS website, which provides information on current policies and announcements related to immigration and TPS.

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