Many California residents have been affected by the massive influx of children from Central and South America over the past year. While a large number of these minors have applied for refugee status due to the dire situations in their home countries, some do not meet the guidelines for the status.
Refugee status depends on applicants being able to demonstrate they face a real threat of harm or death due to their religious beliefs, membership in a specific group or their political beliefs. Many of the children are fleeing different types of violence, including from gangs. If children do not qualify as refugees, they do have another possible avenue for remaining in the country through a special visa program, however.
Under the law, minors may be able to apply for and receive a visa if they were abused or abandoned by one parent and thus left unable to protect themselves in their home country. As many of the fleeing children would be eligible under this criteria, it opens up the ability of minors to remain in the U.S. through that visa program. Just in 2015 alone, more than 6,000 of these special visas have been approved for children.
Family-based immigration may seem very complex, especially given the constant flux in the law. People who are trying to determine the best way in which they can immigrate may want to seek help from an immigration and naturalization attorney. An attorney may be familiar with special visa programs that could potentially allow people to legally live and work in the U.S. much faster than spending years waiting. n attorney who is able to identify an alternate program may then help clients to gather all of their needed documents and information, complete their applications and submit them to the government.