How can I get lawful immigration status?
There are many ways to obtain lawful immigration status. Each one depends on the facts of your case. Lawful immigration status can sometimes mean just a work permit and other times it means a green card.
Some of the common ways that immigrant youth and their families may be able to get lawful immigration status include the ones below. This is just a summary – it is very important to talk to an attorney to see whether you might be able to apply for any of these.
LSC represents youth who are eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status in San Francisco and Alameda counties. Special Immigrant Juvenile Status allows children and youth under age 21 who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by one or both of their parents to apply for permanent residency (a “green card”).
Before they can apply for SIJS, youth must get an order from a state court judge showing that they have been abused, abandoned, or neglected and that it’s in their best interests to remain in the U.S. LSC seeks these orders for youth in probate guardianships, or for youth in foster care in San Francisco County or on juvenile probation. Keep in mind that the order may have to be obtained before the youth’s 18th birthday.
LSC represents San Francisco youth under 21 in DACA applications as well as in applications for renewals and Advance Parole. DACA allows youth who began living in the U.S. before turning 16, have lived here for a certain period of time, and are enrolled in school (or certain other education programs) or have obtained their High School diploma or GED to seek employment authorization.
LSC represents youth who have been the victims of crime in the U.S. or have been the victims of labor or sex trafficking in applications for U and T visas and permanent residency.
LSC represents youth who are eligible for asylum in San Francisco and Alameda counties. Asylum allows children and youth to remain permanently in the U.S. if they can show they have been harmed or fear harm in their home country because of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular group, or political opinion. People granted asylum are eligible to apply for lawful permanent residence (a “green card”) after one year.
Other Relief Options
There are other common relief options which LSC does not assist with but other organizations and private attorneys do. These include:
- Family based petitions
- Temporary Protected Status
- Cancellation of Removal
- Student or exchange visas (F, M, or J visas)
- Employment-based visas
Click here for information about these relief options and referrals for other organizations that provide services for these options.
None of my family has legal status/papers – am I still eligible?
It’s important to talk to an attorney who can tell you what your legal options might be. Some kinds of immigration benefits depend on your age or how long it has been since you came to the U.S., so it is best to talk to an attorney as soon as possible, even if you are young and still being supported by your parents and don’t really need a work permit right now.
Why should I talk to an attorney?
It’s important to talk to a qualified attorney or accredited representative and not just seek advice online or from family members or other consultants in the community (like notaries) because the immigration laws are very complicated and not everyone knows all of the laws and legal options. Also, some people are dishonest and want to trick you into paying them more money than you should. If you file an application and are not eligible or if you give false information to immigration, your application can be rejected and you can be placed into removal proceedings and deported.