USCIS released a message earlier this month stating that eligible students can apply for naturalization in the state where they attend school, or in the state where their family lives as reflected in the USCIS Policy Manual.
Q: I’m currently on an F-1 student visa studying in the US. I am afraid to go back to my home country. Can I apply for asylum?
A: Yes, immigrants present in the US may apply for asylum, as long as they have a true non-frivolous claim. Although applicants generally need to apply during their first year in the US, there are some exceptions, including maintaining another lawful immigration status (like your F-1 status.) However, you should still apply as soon as possible.
TPS: Some countries have been designated for Temporary protected Status, or TPS. You should check the list of current TPS countries, and talk with your international student advisor or an immigration attorney about this option as well.
Asylum: Asylum is not just based on being afraid. Your situation/fears need to meet 3 specific criteria, and need to be reasonable. For example, as part of the application, you would provide reports to show that harm you suffered, or are afraid of suffering is reasonable for your country. I’ll outline the general 3 criteria below:
**Update: DAPA program is currently on hold. From USCIS: Update: Due to a federal court order, USCIS will not begin accepting requests for the expansion of DACA on February 18 as originally planned and has suspended implementation of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents. The court’s temporary injunction, issued February 16, does not affect the existing DACA. Individuals may continue to come forward and request an initial grant of DACA or renewal of DACA under the original guidelines. Please check back for updates. (http://www.uscis.gov/immigrationaction) **
President Obama took executive action on Immigration this past November. Part of his initiatives include a new program providing Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA).
Who is eligible?
- Parents of US citizens and lawful permanent residents who have been present in the US since 1/1/2010. These parents also need to pass a criminal background check and pay taxes.
What kind of relief is available?
- Eligible parents can obtain deferred action, which allows them to remain temporarily in the US without fear of deportation. In addition, they will be able to obtain employment authorization.
When is DAPA available?
- USCIS estimates 180 days following the President’s announcement, which would be May 2015.
What can I do now?
- Save for filing fees, likely $465
- Gather evidence to show presence in the US
- Do not travel outside of the US
- Consult with a licensed immigration attorney