Advanced Issues in Cross-Border Practice: Working With Noncitizen Defendants & Defenses to Deportation Erika D. Pinheiro, JD/MPP (CA) Nicole Elizabeth Ramos, JD (NY) Al Otro Lado www.alotrolado.org 501(c)(3) non-profit organization formed in 2014 in California Binational direct services legal organization (first of its kind) assisting indigent deportees, migrants, and refugees in Tijuana and their family
members in Los Angeles and beyond. Entirely volunteer-run! Donate here: www.alotrolado.org/donate Current programs: Border Rights Project Deportee Reintegration Program Cross-Border Family Support Program What is Asylum & Why Does It Matter in Federal Criminal Cases?
Even if your non-citizen client does not have legal status in the United States, and her federal conviction would make her deportable, she may still be eligible to remain in the U.S. if she fears return to her home country, and that fear relates to a legally recognized ground. Specifically, your client may be eligible for asylum, withholding of removal, or protection under the Convention Against Torture. Your clients federal sentence may pale in comparison to the harm awaiting them in their home country, and you may be your clients last line of defense against that harm. Why Does Your Clients Asylum Claim Matter in the Federal Criminal Case? Federal Sentencing: Title 18 USC, Section 3553(a) (1) the nature and circumstances of the offense and the history and characteristics
of the defendant; (2) the need for the sentence imposed (A) to reflect the seriousness of the offense, to promote respect for the law, and to provide just punishment for the offense; (B) to afford adequate deterrence to criminal conduct; Your clients asylum claim, and the reasons why deportation will result in their persecution or death, is an important part of your clients life story. The transcript of the judges findings in your sentencing in your case could be used by your client in their later immigration case (if favorable). Why Does Your Clients Asylum Claim Matter in the Federal Criminal Case? Your clients fear claim is important for pretrial charge bargaining to perhaps achieve the charging of a lesser included offense, pretrial
diversion, dismissal of charges, or a more favorable plea agreement. Under the indictment, or plea agreement, would your client be convicted of an aggravated felony that might disqualify your client from receiving asylum? If presented sympathetically, would your prosecutor consider an alternative charge so as not to bar client from pursuing all avenues of immigration relief? Why Does Your Clients Asylum Claim Matter in the Federal Criminal Case? Your client has NO absolute right to legal counsel in their immigration case. Therefore you are your clients best chance to gather evidence for their asylum claim, evidence that will ultimately benefit the federal case. You and your investigators are in the best position to help client obtain affidavits, police reports, birth certificates, and death certificates from their home country. If youre unsure how to begin
this process, call us! You and your investigators are in the best position to help your client gather country conditions evidence and human rights reports to be submitted to support their asylum claim in immigration court Role of the AFD or CJA Attorney Screen your non-citizen clients for trauma and fear to return to their country Orient your client about the basics of asylum process, provide written materials in their language (see materials) Ensure fear issue is verbalized during proceedings and put on court record (with concise details)
Carry forms to request CFI/RFI and help client fill out those forms Encourage clients to start writing out/thinking of their narrative to prepare for fear interview and immigration hearings Provide a copy of the application form I-589 to your client in their native language, and assist them in completing a copy in English Encourage clients to seek out the Legal Orientation Program when they get to ICE detention Refugees Seeking Admission to the US: CBPs & ICEs Legal
Obligations General statutory framework for admissions: 8 USC 1225 8 USC 1225(b)(1)(A)(2): If a person seeking admission at the border claims an intent to apply for asylum, the officer SHALL refer the applicant for an asylum interview. Mandatory detention, parole, and release on recognizance Pre vs. Post-election practices Family separation for adults traveling with children Barriers for Refugees Seeking Protection in the United States
Increased rejection of asylum seekers at the ports-ofentry by Customs & Border Protection Increased turn back of asylum seekers by Border Patrol at points other than the port-of-entry Increased coercion of Mexican asylum seekers Increased use of Expedited Removal Heightened standard for Credible Fear Shifting detention and parole practices
Increased abuse/aggression against asylum seekers and their representatives Lack of transparency throughout process & uncertainty over recent policy changes Clients Immigration History Can Help You Decipher Their Claim of Fear and/or Government Misconduct Does client have more than one voluntary return, expedited removal, or deportation? Has your client ever attempted to present themselves at a port-ofentry seeking asylum?
Has your client told an immigration officer at any time, either while entering the country without inspection, or while detained in immigration custody that they feared return to their country? Number of prior removals and/or attempts to enter the country may emphasize clients fear (no deterrence effect of sentencing because client is fleeing for their life), or the failure of government officials in the past to properly screen and refer your client for an asylum interview Credible & Reasonable Fear Interview Process Overview Legal Standard: there is a significant possibility, taking into account the credibility of the statements made by the alien in support of his or her claim and such other facts as are known to the officer, that the alien could establish eligibility for asylum under
Section 208 of the INA. Reasonable Fear Interview: For refugees with prior removal orders Must establish there is a reasonable possibility you would be persecuted in the future on account of your race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. The legal standard is the same standard used to establish a well-founded fear of persecution in an asylum case. Credible / Reasonable Fear Interview: Request Early & Often Studies show that even when asylum seekers express a fear of return to their home country, immigration officials have ignored their requests to speak with an, instead deporting the individual back to
their home country. Therefore it is critical to make a record that your client fears return, notifying both the prosecutor and ICE officer, and obtaining confirmation that the client will be given an interview with an asylum officer. Consider providing client with pre-printed letters to submit to their ICE officer weekly when they reach detention. Sample Client Request for Interview Dear Immigration Officer, I, _______________________________, with Alien Number___________________ would like to request an interview with an asylum officer. I fear returning to my home country. [signature and printed name of client] (A number_______________) (date) Helping Your Client Prepare For Their
Interview With An Asylum Officer The officer will want to know : WHO harmed, persecuted or tortured your client (or if there is a risk of SOMEONE doing this to your client in the future) WHY they did this to your client, or will do so in the future. Must be connected to one of the five protected grounds, race, nationality, religion, political opinion, or because they are a member of a particular social group in society (LGBTQ, gender, disability, indigenous) WHAT happened, WHEN it happened, and WHERE it happened. You can be helpful to your client (and your own sentencing case) by creating a timeline of the persecution Helping Your Client Prepare For Their Interview With An Asylum Officer
Encourage your client to be very specific about why they were harmed in the past, or face risk of future harm. It is not enough for them to say there is a lot of violence and delinquency in society What did the persecutor say or do to make your client believe why they were specifically harmed, or would be harmed in the future? What clues exist to demonstrate the persecutors motivation? How was the government involved? If the government did not actively cause the harm, what did the government do about it? Is the government and law enforcement unable or unwilling to protect your client? Can your client live safely somewhere else inside their home country? Excellent Resources for Country Conditions
United States Department of State, Human Rights Reports: www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm#wrapper UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) RefWorld: http://www.refworld.org/ (search by country and topic area) Amnesty International (same) Human Rights Watch (same) Center for Gender and Refugees Studies (must complete online
request) Disability Rights International Insight Crime: http://www.insightcrime.org/ Excellent Resources for Country Conditions UNHCR GUIDANCE NOTE ON REFUGEE CLAIMS RELATING TO VICTIMS OF ORGANIZED GANGS (March 2010) United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes: Transnational Organized Crime in Central America and the Caribbean A Threat Assessment:
Congressional Research Service: Gangs in Central America: http://www.unhcr.org/585a987a4.pdf Congressional Research Service: Asylum and Gang Violence: Legal Overview: http://www.unhcr.org/585a972d4.pdf Excellent Resources for Country Conditions Women on the Run: A Study Conducted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees First-Hand Accounts of Refugees Fleeing El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico (October 2015) http://www.unhcr.org/publications/operations/5630f24c6/women-run.html Sexual and Gender-Based Violence against Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons, UNHCR Guidelines for Prevention and Response (May 2003)
http://www.unhcr.org/protection/women/3f696bcc4/sexual-gender-based-violence-ag ainst-refugees-returnees-internally-displaced.html Guidelines on Claims to Refugee Status based on Sexual Orientation and/or Gender identity Within the Context of Article 1A(2) of the 1951 Convention and/or its 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees (2012) (providing substantive and procedural guidance on the determination of refugee status of individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity) Excellent Resources for Country Conditions Guatemala Policy Paper: UNHCR: http://www.unhcr.org/5953a8994.pdf UNHCR: Eligibility Guidelines for Assessing the International Protection Needs of Asylum-Seekers from El Salvador: http://www.refworld.org/docid/56e706e94.html
UNHCR: Eligibility Guidelines for Assessing the International Protection Needs of Asylum-Seekers from Honduras Overview of Asylum Law, Withholding of Removal, protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT), and Common Asylum Claims Asylum Law INA 101 (A)(42); 208; 235(b); 241(b) 8 CFR 208; 1208 UNHCR Handbook on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status
9th Circuit Immigration Law Outline Refugee Convention, CRC Optional Protocols re: child soldiers, and other international law. Additional caselaw, law review articles, sample briefs/cover letters, and country conditions materials will be available on Al Otro Lados website Asylum Elements Well-founded fear Of Persecution
By the Government (Or Someone the Government is Unable or Unwilling to Control) On Account of (a.k.a. Nexus) A Protected Ground Race Religion Nationality
Political Opinion, Membership in a Particular Social Group Cannot relocate within home country or to a safe third country Not barred for criminal/national security/other reasons. Well-Founded Fear Reasonable Probability Fear both Subjective and Objective
Applicant is afraid to return (subjective) The fear is objectively reasonable Lower than preponderance of the evidence One-in-ten probability INS v. Cardoza-Fonseca, 480 U.S. 481 (1987) Persecution Not defined by the INA Our caselaw characterizes
persecution as an extreme concept, marked by the infliction of suffering or harm . . . in a way regarded as offensive. Li v. Ashcroft, 356 F.3d 1153, 1158 (9th Cir. 2004) Hallmarks are: Detention, arrest, interrogation, unlawful prosecution, imprisonment, illegal search, surveillance, beatings, torture, confiscation, threats, harm to family members, forced criminal activity, rape/sexual violence Persecution is NOT Minor disadvantages or trivial inconveniences do not rise to the level of persecution. Kovac v. INS, 407 F.2d 102, 107 (9th Cir. 1969). Poverty, Crime, Bad Luck are NOT enough Generally
The bad county conditions are not enough harm MUST be particularized to the applicant Forms of Persecution: Physical Harm Physical harm has consistently been treated as persecution. See Chand v. INS, 222 F.3d 1066, 1073-74 (9th Cir. 2000) Rape, torture, assault, and beatings, amount to persecution. Torture is per se disproportionately harsh; it is inherently and impermissibly severe Nuru v. Gonzales, 404 F.3d 1207, 1225 (9th Cir. 2005) Forms of Persecution: Detention Detention
and confinement may constitute persecution. Stronger case where there is abuse or detention is prolonged. See Ahmed v. Keisler, 504 F.3d 1183, 1194 (9th Cir. 2007) (native of Bangladesh suffered detentions, beatings, and threats that were disproportionate to his political activities, and rose to the level of persecution) Brief detention w/ no abuse usually not persecution. Khourassany v. INS, 208 F.3d 1096, 1100-01 (9th Cir. 2000) (Palestinian Israelis short detentions not persecution) Mendez-Efrain v. INS, 813 F.2d 279, 283 (9th Cir. 1987)
(Salvadorans four-day detention not persecution) FORMS OF PERSECUTION: Threats Threats of serious harm, particularly when combined with confrontation or other mistreatment, may constitute persecution. See, Mashiri v. Ashcroft, 383 F.3d 1112, 1120-21 (9th Cir. 2004) (death threats, violence against family, vandalism of residence, threat of mob violence, economic harm and emotional trauma suffered by ethnic Afghan family in Germany). What matters is whether the group making the threat has the will or the ability to carry it out. Kaiser v. Ashcroft, 390 F.3d 653, 658 (9th Cir. 2004).
The fact that threats are unfulfilled is not necessarily dispositive. See id. at 658-59. When Threats are NOT Persecution Threats usually must be specific. Mendez-Gutierrez v. Ashcroft, 340 F.3d 865, 870 n.6 (9th Cir. 2003) (unspecified threats received by Mexican national not sufficiently menacing to constitute past persecution) Anonymous insufficient. or unfulfilled threats can be Hoxha v. Ashcroft, 319 F.3d 1179, 1182 (9th Cir. 2003) (unfulfilled threats received by ethnic Albanian constitute harassment rather than persecution); Lim v. INS, 224 F.3d 929, 936-37 (9th Cir. 2000) (mail and telephone threats received by former Filipino intelligence
officer); Quintanilla-Ticas v. INS, 783 F.2d 955, 957 (9th Cir. 1986) (anonymous threat received by Salvadoran military musician). Forms of Persecution: Mental, Emotional, & Psychological Persecution may be emotional or psychological, as well as physical. Mashiri v. Ashcroft, 383 F.3d 1112, 1120 (9th Cir. 2004) (discussing emotional trauma suffered by ethnic Afghan family based on anti-foreigner violence in Germany) Must be SEVERE. Kazlauskas v. INS, 46 F.3d 902, 907 (9th Cir. 1995) (harassment and ostracism of Lithuanian was not sufficiently
atrocious to support a humanitarian grant of asylum). Usually in conjunction with other types of persecution (threats, etc.) Forms of Persecution: Substantial Economic Deprivation Substantial economic deprivation that constitutes a threat to life or freedom may constitute persecution. See Baballah v. Ashcroft, 367 F.3d 1067, 1076 (9th Cir. 2004) (severe harassment, threats, violence and discrimination made it virtually impossible for Israeli Arab to earn a living). The absolute inability to support ones family is not required. Id.
Desir v. Ilchert, 840 F.2d 723, 727-29 (9th Cir. 1988) (considering impact of extortion by government security forces on Haitian fishermans ability to earn livelihood); However, generalized poverty or mere economic disadvantage alone does not rise to the level of persecution. Gormley v. Ashcroft, 364 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 2004) (loss of employment pursuant to South Africas affirmative action plan did not amount to persecution) Forms of Persecution: Cumulative Effect of Harms The cumulative effect of harms and abuses that might not individually rise to the level of persecution may support an asylum claim. See Korablina v. INS, 158 F.3d 1038, 1044 (9th Cir. 1998)
The court look[s] at the totality of the circumstances in deciding whether a finding of persecution is compelled. Guo v. Ashcroft, 361 F.3d 1194, 1203 (9th Cir. 2004) (finding persecution where Chinese Christian was arrested, detained twice, physically abused, and forced to renounce religion) Persecution: Age of the Victim The harm a child fears or has suffered may still qualify as persecution despite appearing to be less than that necessary for an adult to establish persecution. This is because childrenare prone to be more severely impacted by trauma than adults. [A] childs reaction to injuries to his family is different from an adults. The child is part of the family, the wound to the family is personal, the trauma apt to be lasting.
Hernandez-Ortiz v. Gonzales, 496 F.3d 1042, 1045 (9th Cir. 2007) (joining the Second, Sixth, and Seventh Circuits in affirming legal rule that injuries to a family must be considered in an asylum case where events that form the basis of the past persecution claim were perceived when petitioner was a child). Persecution: Age of the Victim In Jorge-Tzoc v. Gonzales, 435 F.3d 146, 150 (2d Cir. 2006), the court found that displacement - initially internal, resulting economic hardship, and viewing the bullet-ridden body of his cousin] could well constitute persecution to a small child totally dependent on his family and community. Xue Yun Zhang v. Gonzales, 408 F.3d 1239 (9th Cir. 2005) (suggesting that the hardships suffered by fourteen year old applicant, including economic deprivation resulting from fines against her parents, lack of educational opportunities, and trauma from witnessing her fathers forcible removal from the home, could be sufficient to constitute past persecution).
By the Government Source of the persecution must be the government, a quasi-official group, or persons or groups that the government is unwilling or unable to control. See Avetovo-Elisseva v. INS, 213 F.3d 1192, 1196 (9th Cir. 2000) See Tapia-Madrugal v. Holder, 716 F.3d 499 (9th Cir. 2013)(reversing agency for failing to consider efficacy of Mexican governments efforts to control violence of Los Zetas drug cartel) Financial considerations that account for the states inability to stop the persecution are irrelevant. An unsuccessful government investigation does not necessarily demonstrate that the government was unwilling or unable to control the source or agent of persecution.
See Nahrvani v. Gonzales, 399 F.3d 1148, 1154 (9th Cir. 2005) (German police took reports and investigated incidents, but were unable to solve the crimes). on Account of (Nexus)) The applicant must show that the persecution s/he suffered or will suffer is ON ACCOUNT OF one of the five protected grounds: race, nationality, religion, political opinion, and membership in a particular social group. For applications filed on or after May 11, 2005, the REAL ID Act of 2005, Pub. L. No. 109-113, 119 Stat. 231, created a new nexus standard, requiring that an applicant establish that [one of the 5 protected grounds] was or will be at least one central reason for persecuting the applicant. 8 U.S.C. 1158(b)(1)(B)(i). [A] motive is a central reason if the persecutor would not have harmed the
applicant if such motive did not exist. Likewise, a motive is a central reason if that motive, standing alone, would have led the persecutor to harm the applicant. . . . Parussimova v. Mukasey, 555 F.3d 734, 741 (9th Cir. 2009) But for standard makes mixed motive cases more difficult. Protected Ground: Nationality Race & Claims of race and nationality persecution often overlap. Duarte de Guinac v. INS, 179 F.3d 1156, 1160 n.5 (9th Cir. 1999) (Quiche Indian from Guatemala). Recent cases use the more precise term ethnicity, which falls somewhere between and within the protected grounds of race and nationality. Shoafera
v. INS, 228 F.3d 1070, 1074 n.2 (9th Cir. 2000) (ethnic Amhara in Ethiopia) Protected Ground: Religion Persecution on the basis of religion may assume various forms, including: [P]rohibition of membership of a religious community, or worship in private or in public, of religious instruction, or serious measures of discrimination imposed on persons because they practice their religion or belong to a particular religious community. Handbook on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status, U.N. Doc. HCR/IP/4/Eng./REV.2 (ed. 1992) (UNHCR Handbook), para. 72. Protected Ground: Religion & Gangs The applicant refuses to join a gang because of his/her religious belief or conscience (usually must combine with other protected ground)
A gang member who experiences religious conversion wants to exit the gang. The applicant belongs to a church that publicly speaks out against gangs ASK: The level of the applicants religious activity, including any leadership positions held within the church, frequency of church attendance, and familiarity with the basic precepts of the religion How/whether the gang members were aware of the applicants religious beliefs Whether others from the applicants church were also targeted
Protected Ground: Religion & Gangs Establishing nexus is a significant challenge in religion cases. See Quinteros-Mendoza v. Holder, 556 F.3d 159 (4th Cir 2009), Insufficient evidence that the gangs were motivated by the applicants religious affiliation. Although gang attacked Petitioner at church and threatened to hurt him if continued attending church, the Court found that the gangs main motivation was financial gain and personal animosity and not Petitioners religion because the gang demanded money during all encounters, the attacks continued even after Respondent quit his church, and no other members of the church were targeted. PRACTICE TIP: DO NOT mention random incidents of robbery if not related to the claim! Protected Ground: Political Opinion May
be ACTUAL (Party Member or Leader) May be IMPUTED (Political Opinion is assumed or imputed because family members were politically active, or a certain ethnic group may tend to have a particular political opinion) Desir v. Ilchert, 840 F.2d 723 (9th Cir. 1988) Protected Ground: Political Opinion Imputed political opinion presumptions: Family membership Typically, where killings and other acts
of violence are inflicted on members of the same family by government forces, the inference that they are connected and politically motivated is an appropriate one. Navas v. INS, 217 F.3d 646, 661 (9th Cir. 2000) An applicants status as a government employee alone may establish imputed political opinion. Sagaydak v. Gonzales, 405 F.3d 1035, 1042 (9th Cir. 2005) Cf. Policemen - Cruz-Navarro v. INS, 232 F.3d 1024, 1029 (9th Cir. 2000) (no evidence to show that guerillas imputed contrary political opinion to Peruvian police officer) Protected Ground: Political Opinion and Gangs Gangs and Central American governments are at war Gangs have evolved past mere criminal organizations
Gangs have been designated as terrorist organizations in ES and the government has militarized schools and rural areas in response Gangs control territory charging taxes, limiting access, taking over homes and other properties. If you are not with them, you are against them! Gangs exert influence on the political system Common claims: Actively speaking out against gangs/refusing to cooperate Refusing recruitment =articulate a pro-government/pro-law opinion
Neutrality = political opinion in an environment in which political neutrality is fraught with hazard. Can be imputed based on residence or family ties Protected Ground: Particular Social Group Important Cases: Matter of M-E-V-G-, 26 I&N Dec. 227 (BIA 2014) Matter of W-G-R-, 26 I&N Dec. 20 (BIA 2014) Requirements: (1) composed of members who share a common immutable
characteristic, (2) defined with particularity, and (3) socially distinct within the society in question. Cannot define social group by persecution i.e. Female victims of FGM not a social group defined instead by other common, immutable characteristics. Mohammed v. Gonzales, 400 F.3d 785, 798 (9th Cir. 2005) (social group comprised of young girls in the Benadiri clan or Somalian females). Particular Social Group: Common Immutable Characteristic Seminal Case: Matter of Acosta, 19 I. & N. Dec. 211 (BIA 1985) It is a collection of people closely affiliated with each other, who are actuated by some common impulse or interest. [A] particular social group is one united by a voluntary association, including a
former association, or by an innate characteristic that is so fundamental to the identities or consciences of its members that members either cannot or should not be required to change it, Hernandez-Montiel v. INS, 225 F.3d 1084, 1092-93 (9th Cir. 2000) (Mexican gay men with female sexual identities constitute a particular social group) Cf. Arteaga v. Mukasey, 511 F3d 940, 945-46 (9th Cir. 2007) (membership in violent criminal gang was not membership in a social group) Former actions or group membership are immutable Cruz-Navarro v. INS, 232 F.3d 1024, 1028-29 (9th Cir. 2000) (former members of the police or military) Particular Social Group: Particularity/Social Distinction M-E-V-G- required that a social group be defined by characteristics that provide a clear benchmark for determining who falls within the group. 26 I&N Dec. 227 at 239.
A valid particular social group is not amorphous, overbroad, diffuse, or subjective. Id. EX: Wealthy families not a social group no clear line to define who is/is not included Social Distinction = the group is recognized as a group by the society/country in question (i.e. family, former police) Examples of Recognized Particular Social Groups Family membership Sexual orientation
Gender Former status, associations, or experiences Informants/Witnesses Women unable to leave domestic relationships Family = Particular Social Group Family membership alone can constitute PSG reasons why family was targeted are not relevant. Inquiry: 1. How does the persecutor know the family members are related? Lin v. Ashcroft, 356 F.3d at 1039-40 (9th Cir. 2004) 2.
Are any family members living safely in home country? 3. If so, are they similarly situated to the applicant? Hoxha v. Ashcroft, 319 F.3d 1179, 1184 (9th Cir. 2003) Extortion & Family PSG Generally, extortion cases will not prevail unless the extortion is extreme AND connected to one of the protected grounds If entire family is threatened for failure to pay, try to make family-based PSG claim Bolshakov v. INS, 133 F.3d 1279, 1281 (9th Cir. 1998) (criminal extortion and robbery by Russian thugs) Ochoa v. Gonzales, 406 F.3d 1166, 1171 (9th Cir. 2005) (business owners in Colombia who rejected demands by narco-traffickers to participate in illegal activity was too
broad a category to qualify as a particular social group) Crime Witness/Victim PSG Henriquez-Rivas v. Holder, 707 F.3d 1081 (9th Cir. 2013) Social group: person who testified in a criminal trial against gang members Doesnt foreclose social group formulation for witnesses/ informants who dont testify publicly, as long as there is some way for persecutors to identify them ASK: Did the gangs know you witnessed a crime? Did you report it, or were you threatened not to? If you reported it, what happened? If you didnt report, why not? (focus on police corruption) Forced Gang Recruitment PSGs Almost always a losing proposition if framed as a forced recruitment case Matter of M-E-V-G, 26 I&N Dec. 227 (BIA 2014)
PSG: Honduran youth who have been actively recruited, but refused to join gangs Too diffuse i.e. all segments of society affected by gangs Matter of S-E-G-, 24 I&N Dec. 579 (BIA 2008) PSG: Salvadoran youth who have been recruited and have rejected or resisted membership in the gang based on their own personal, moral, and religious opposition to the gangs values and activities Rules that the group lacks social visibility because it would not be perceived as a group by society Rules that it lacks particularity (too amorphous). Matter of E-A-G-, 24 I&N Dec. 591 (BIA 2008) PSG: young persons who resist gang membership, or who are perceived to be affiliated with gangs. Rules that the group lacks social visibility and would not be viewed as a segment of the population. Forced Gang Recruitment PSGs Pirir-Boc v. Holder, No. 09-73671, 2014 WL 1797657 (9th Cir. May 7, 2014) Facts: two brothers recruited, older one refused, younger one joined, older bro took younger out of town and away from gang, gang found and beat him and both fled.
PSG: Individuals who take concrete steps to oppose gang membership and gang authority (PRF granted and remanded) Steps taken to oppose gang are something he cannot change ( immutable past experience) In these cases, mark both political opinion and PSG and argue both! Domestic Violence PSGs Matter of A-R-C-G-, 26 I&N Dec. 388 (BIA 2014) Persecution: Abuse included weekly beatings, broken bones, paint thinner being thrown upon her person- resulting in burns.
The BIA recognized PSG: Married women in Guatemala who are unable to leave their relationship GENDER + NATIONALITY + STATUS IN DOMESTIC RELATIONSHIP Matter of ARCG, 3-part test for PSG Immutability: Members who share the common immutable characteristic of gender and marital status, where the individual is unable to leave the relationship. Women asylum-seekers who face harsh or inhuman treatment due to their having transgressed the social mores of the society in which they live may be considered as a particular social group. Matter of Kasinga 21 I. & N. Dec. 357 (BIA 1996). (FGM persecution v. widely accepted cultural practice)
Particularity: The DHS conceded that the group is defined with particularity. The terms used to describe the group, married, women, and unable to leave the relationship- are commonly accepted definitions within Guatemalan society. A married womans inability to leave the relationship may be informed by societal expectations about gender and subordination, as well as legal constraints regarding divorce and separation. Social Distinction: Meaningful distinctions based on the common immutable characteristics of being a married woman in a domestic relationship that she cannot leave. Shown by whether the society recognizes the need to offer protection to victims of domestic violence, including whether the country has criminal law designed to protect domestic abuse victims. Country Conditions includes irrefutable evidence that Guatemala has a culture of machismo and family violence. Matter of ARCG: Government unable/unwilling to control Most gender-based harms are often inflicted by private individuals rather than governmental actors, but these harms are often encouraged, tolerated, or ignored by governments.
In Matter of ARCG the applicant reported her abuse to the police several times. Although Guatemala has laws in place to prosecute domestic violence crimes, enforcement can be problematic because the National Civilian Police often fail to respond to requests for assistance related to domestic violence. Note that reporting persecution to government authorities is not essential to demonstrating that the government is unable or unwilling to protect [the alien] from private actors. Afriyie, 613 F.3d at 931; see also CastroMartinez v. Holder, 674 F.3d 1073, 1080-81 (9th Cir. 2011) (explaining that reporting private persecution is not essential, but determining petitioner failed to adequately explain why reporting sexual abuse to authorities would have been futile). Defining PSG in Child Abuse Cases Successful PSGs in child Abuse cases: (from CGRS) Use ARCG Framework
Family Based (e.g.-children in the X family, female children in the X family) Childhood + status in the family (e.g.-Guatemalan children viewed as property by virtue of their status in the family, Mexican children who are unable to leave their family) Disability (e.g. -children stigmatized as mentally deficient) Orphans Adopted Children
LGBT Children Hypo: Gender/Domestic Violence/Child Abuse Claims Maritza is a 15yr old from El Salvador whose parents reside in the US. When she was 14yrs old, a gang member started following her when she walked home from school. He told her that he liked her and that she had to be his girlfriend or he would harm her and her family. The gang member also approached Maritzas uncle (caretaker) and told him if Maritza didnt become his girlfriend that Maritza and the family would be harmed or killed. The uncle told Maritza to leave El Salvador because the gang threatened her life. Martiza tells you that in El Salvador, the gangs take young girls, rape them and throw them in plastic bags. Maritza left El Salvador after these threats made by the gang member. Hypo, contd Maritzas story is an exceedingly common factual scenario - where there is no real relationship with persecutor with several potential outcomes:
The girl is harassed and threatened, but escapes before the gang carries out the threat The girl is raped, with or without a resulting pregnancy The girl is forcibly placed into girlfriend position to gang member. The girl willingly became the girlfriend of a gang member, but cannot leave the relationship Defining PSG in DV Cases Special Note on Forced Relationship Cases (CGRS)
Domestic violence asylum claims should be considered to encompass those where a man forces a woman or girl into a relationship or perceives a woman or girl as his despite her resistance. These types of claims are frequently seen from countries such as Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries in Central America with high rates of gang activity, where the dynamics in gang culture reflect heightened patriarchal attitudes of society at large. These claimseven where the relationship is not consensual or established for a long period of timeshould be analyzed through the domestic violence lens so long as the hallmarks of domestic violence(e.g., physical violence, sexual abuse, threats, jealousy and isolation, force and lack of agency, intimidation, and stalking) are present. Future Persecution: Pattern or Practice of Persecution for cases where UACs (especially female) flee generalized gang violence before they receive specific
threats - or where only siblings receive threats. An applicant need not show that she will be singled out individually for persecution if: (A) The applicant establishes that there is a pattern or practice in his or her country . . . of persecution of a group of persons similarly situated to the applicant on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion; and (B) The applicant establishes his or her own inclusion in, and identification with, such group of persons such that his or her fear of persecution upon return is reasonable. 8 C.F.R. 1208.13(b)(2)(iii) Knezevic v. Ashcroft, 367 F.3d 1206, 1213 (9th Cir. 2004) (evidence of a Croat pattern and practice of ethnically cleansing Bosnian Serbs) Past v. Future Persecution who is unable or unwilling to return tothat country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution
Past persecution establishes a legal presumption of future persecution. DHS can rebut this presumption with proof, by a preponderance of the evidence, that circumstances have changed to that the past persecution is unlikely to reoccur. Past persecution is not necessary, establishing a well-founded fear of future persecution is enough, though it can be more difficult to prove. Future Persecution: Individualized Risk Past persecution is not necessary; a well-founded fear of future persecution is enough, however it is more difficult to prove.
Applicant was specifically targeted Marcos v. Gonzales, 410 F.3d 1112, 1119 (9th Cir. 2005) (Philippine applicant demonstrated well-founded fear based on credible death threats by members of the New Peoples Army) Mendoza Perez v. INS, 902 F.2d 760, 762 (9th Cir. 1990) (Salvadoran applicant received a direct, specific and individual threat from death squad). Applicants family was specifically targeted The violence must create a pattern of persecution closely tied to the petitioner. Arriaga-Barrientos v. INS, 937 F.2d 411, 414 (9th Cir. 1991)
Mgoian v. INS, 184 F.3d 1029, 1035 n.4 (9th Cir. 1999) (violence and harassment against entire Kurdish Muslim family in Armenia). Future Persecution: Pattern or Practice of Persecution An applicant need not show that she will be singled out individually for persecution if: (A) The applicant establishes that there is a pattern or practice in his or her country . . . of persecution of a group of persons similarly situated to the applicant on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion; and (B) The applicant establishes his or her own inclusion in, and identification with, such group of persons such that his or her fear of persecution upon return is reasonable. 8 C.F.R.
1208.13(b)(2)(iii) ASK: Do you know anyone else like you who had the same problems? Future Persecution: Red Flags Applicant continued to live in home country after persecution Applicants family continues to live in home country Applicant returned to home country Persecutor has died Humanitarian Asylum
Asylum may be granted to a victim of particularly severe past persecution even if the government can rebut the fear of future persecution if the applicant show: Compelling reasons for being unwilling or unable to return to the country arising out of the severity of the past persecution, 8 C.F.R. 1208.13(b)(1)(iii)(A); Lal v. INS, 255 F.3d 998, 1009-10 (9th Cir. 2001) (Indo-Fijian arrested, detained three times, beaten, tortured, urine forced into mouth, cut with knives, burned with cigarettes, forced to watch sexual assault of wife, forced to eat meat, house set ablaze twice, temple ransacked, and holy text burned), amended by 268 F.3d 1148 (9th Cir. 2001) A reasonable possibility that he or she may suffer other serious harm upon removal to that country. 8 C.F.R. 1208.13(b)(1)(iii)(B)
Belishta v. Ashcroft, 378 F.3d 1078, 1081 (9th Cir.2004); (remanding for consideration of humanitarian grant where former government agents terrorized Albanian family in an effort to take over their residence). Withholding of Removal Has same requirements as Asylum, INA 241(b)(3): BUT, it also has some major differences: Must prove persecution is more likely than not to occur (50%+) It is NOT discretionary No time-bar (i.e., no one-year issues) Can still get Withholding of Removal with a PRIOR DEPORTATION Convention Against Torture (CAT) Is
codified only in the Regs: 8 C.F.R. 1208.16, 17. Applicant must show that it is more likely than not (50%+) that they will be tortured if returned to their home country. No Nexus is required between the torture and the protected grounds of asylum and withholding. The torture must be done by the government or with the governments acquiescence. Eligibility for U Visas and VAWA What is the U Visa & How Can it Help My Client Stay in the United States? Nonimmigrant visa that allows noncitizen crime victims and certain qualifying family members to live and work legally in the United States for up to four years, with extensions in some cases.
Allows certain individuals, who are otherwise removable from the United States the chance to remain. The U visa also provides a path to permanent status. U visa holders are eligible to apply to adjust status to lawful permanent resident after three years. After five years, they become eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship What is the Purpose of the U Visa Enacted by Congress in October 2000 by the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act (TVPA), and reauthorized in 2003, 2005, 2008, and 2013 (Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), the U visa is both a shield for immigrant crime victims who fear contacting police to report crimes against them, for fear they will be deported, and a tool for law enforcement to investigate crimes committed in the community against populations who
are seen as easy targets. Who Is Potentially Eligible for a U Visa? The immigrant must have been a victim of a serious criminal activity (see list of eligible crimes) For which they suffered substantial physical or mental/emotional harm The immigrant was helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful to the investigation or prosecution of the crime against them The crime occurred in the United States, or violated the law of the United States.
What About Crimes Against the Children of Noncitizen Clients? In the case of the child of an immigrant, whether the child herself is an immigrant, or the child is a citizen, the noncitizen parent client may still be eligible to apply for a U visa if they possess information concerning the criminal activity and was helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful to the investigation or prosecution of the crime. What About the Undocumented Members of Your Noncitizen Clients Family? For adult noncitizen client over 21 years of age, their spouse and children may apply for U visa derivative status, enjoying the same protections as the U visa holder.
If the victim is under 21 years of age, a qualifying family member may be the spouse, children, parents, or unmarried siblings of the noncitizen who are under 18 years of age. Sources of Law for the U Visa & Forms You Will Need Immigration & Nationality Act (INA) 101(a)(15)(U) 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(U); 8 CFR 214.14 I-918 Petition for U Visa Nonimmigrant Status I-918 Supplement B Law Enforcement Certification
I-192 Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility (Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant) Form I-918A for Derivative Family Members Fee Waiver Letter Outlining Need for Waiver What Kinds of Crimes Qualify My Noncitizen Client for a U Visa? Rape, sexual assault, abusive sexual contact, or incest Trafficking, prostitution, sexual exploitation Torture
Trafficking, being held hostage, peonage, involuntary servitude, slave trade Domestic violence Kidnapping, abduction, unlawful criminal restraint, false imprisonment Blackmail and/or extortion Murder, felonious assault Obstruction of justice, perjury
Attempt or conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the above crimes, or any similar criminal activity. Similar criminal activity refers to offenses which the nature and elements are substantially similar to the crimes listed above. Who is a Victim: Difference Between Direct and Indirect Victims Direct victim is the person who suffered direct or proximate harm as a result of the crime. Indirect victims are the noncitizen spouse, children under 21 years of age and, if the direct victim is under 21 years of age, parents and unmarried siblings under 18 years of age if the direct victim is deceased due to murder or manslaughter, or is incompetent or incapacitated, and therefore unable to provide information concerning the criminal activity or be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.
Parents of abused children qualify as indirect victims, even if the child is a United States citizen. Special Note About Victims of Witness Tampering, Obstruction of Justice or Perjury If the perpetrator committed the offense to Avoid investigation, arrest, or prosecution for some other crime committed against the direct or indirect victim Or if the perpetrators abuse, exploitation, or control over the U visa applicant occurred through manipulation of the legal system No Perpetrators of the Crime May Be Included in the Application
Even if the perpetrator of the crime is a qualifying family member, they may not be included in the application. Proving Helpfulness to Law Enforcement Must provide a certification from law enforcement that the U visa applicant reported the crime, was helpful, is being helpful, or will likely to be helpful in the criminal investigation or prosecution. The applicant possessed information about the crime, and reported it, and did not otherwise unreasonable refuse or fail to provide reasonable requested assistance to law enforcement. The applicant must obtain certification on Form I-918, Supplement B, from a federal,
state, or local law enforcement official, or a judge investigating or prosecuting the criminal activity. A local or state law enforcement agency can also include child protective services or agency investigating labor violations. Certification is good only for 6 months. So the U visa application must be filed with the certification and received by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services by the date of expiration. If 6 months pass, the applicant will be required to obtain a re-certification, which is not guaranteed. What Documents Will You Need to Obtain Law Enforcement Certification? A police report, court records if available, copies of restraining orders, copies of child protective services records
Medical and mental health records if available to show the harm suffered A statement from the U visa applicant, and or impacted family members and friends regarding the impact of the crime on the U visa applicant. How Do You Show Substantial Physical, Mental / Emotional Harm? Injury or harm to the victims physical person, or harm to or impairment of the emotional and psychological soundness of the victim. Harm is evaluated according to the following factors: The nature of the injury inflicted or suffered
The severity of the perpetrators conduct The severity of harm suffered The duration of the infliction of harm The extent to which there is permanent or serious harm to the appearance, health, or physical or mental soundness of the victim, including the aggravation of pre-existing conditions. A series of acts taken together may be constitute substantial physical or mental abuse even where no single act alone rises to that level.
Criminal History & Other Grounds of Inadmissibility The U visa applicant must still show that they are admissible to the United States. If they are inadmissible, they must apply for a waiver of their inadmissibility. The statutory grounds of inadmissibility are found listed in INA 212(a). Some common grounds of inadmissibility include: Entering without inspection Criminal convictions
Security grounds Fraud/misrepresentation False claims to U.S. citizenship, including unlawful voting and falsification of I-9 form for employment Health conditions/substance abuse Prior deportations Unlawful presence USCIS Has Discretion to Waive ALL Grounds of Inadmissibility Except
For U visa applicants, USCIS has discretion to waive all grounds of inadmissibility found in INA 212(a) except paragraph Nazi persecution, genocide, torture, and extrajudicial killing). U visa applicant must show that it is in the national or public interest for USCIS to waive the grounds of in admissibility Must file Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant, with the current fee of $930.00 or request for a fee waiver. To decide on whether to grant a waiver, USCIS will balance the adverse factors of inadmissibility against the social and humanitarian considerations presented of the immigrant remaining in the country. If the inadmissibility is based on violent or dangerous crime, then USCIS will exercise favorable discretion only in extraordinary circumstances.
Ensure You Have An Accurate Copy of Your Clients Criminal & Immigration History Your application for a waiver must include certified disposition of all arrests and convictions, and the sentence imposed. All arrests and convictions must be disclosed on form I-918 and I-192. Submit a Freedom of Information Act Request for your clients court records and immigration agency records from: Executive Office of Immigration Review (Immigration Court) (can be requested via email with appropriate signed release) ICE (can be requested via email with appropriate signed release
USCIS (can be requested via email with appropriate signed release) CBP (can be obtained via their online submission form) If in federal court, request complete A file in discovery from AUSA Benefits to Applicants With Prior Orders of Removal They can still apply for a U visa The U visa applicant can request a stay of removal (although it is not guaranteed that he/she will receive a stay) If
the U visa applicant is deported during the process, once approved, the applicant can return to the United States Why Does U Visa Eligibility Matter in the Federal Criminal Case? Your clients story of victimization is a part of their personal story, and it is relevant to pretrial charge bargaining, and your preparation for sentencing If you are defending your client in a federal criminal case, chances are they will have some ground of inadmissibility. In the same manner in which you prepare for sentencing, by obtaining letters/affidavits from family, friends, and community members, school records, medical and mental health records, all of these will be relevant to helping your client obtain a waiver You are your clients best chance of defense against deportation through
obtaining documents to support a waiver, records of their criminal and immigration history, and obtaining certification from law enforcement. Once detained, it is difficult to impossible for clients to do this on their own, Important Filing Considerations All documents must be translated into English and include a certification from the translator that they are competent to translate from the foreign language to English Applications must be mailed to: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Vermont Service Center Attn: VAWA Unit 75 Lower Welden St. St. Albans, VT 05479 Detained clients will have their fingerprints (biometrics) taken while they are in detention, and will be unable to provide a passport style photo
You may request expedited processing of the application if the individual is detained Processing times vary, between 6-18 months. Client Was Approved But No Visa Is Available & Travel Considerations There is a 10,000 cap on the number of U visas that USCIS will grant per year There is currently a backlog, meaning even if your client is approved, they will still not receive the actual visa Instead they will be placed in deferred action status and placed on
a waitlist. At this time, they become eligible for a work authorization card, which they can use to obtain a social security number, and to work in the country legally. U visa applicant should avoid all foreign travel until they have obtained lawful permanent resident status. If travel abroad is necessary, they must apply for advance permission travel documents, and there is no guarantee that CBP will honor their return travel permission documents. Violence Against Women Act What is VAWA & Who Qualifies? Client must be the abused spouse, child, or parent of a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident Abused spouses unmarried children under 21 may be considered derivatives, even if they have not
themselves been abused or were related to the abuser Abused parents of U.S. citizen children where the abusive child is 21 years of age or older Special Rules About Filing for Abused Children (Now Young Adults) Abused child of U.S. citizen or LPR parent until the age of 25 if he/she can demonstrate that abuse was at least one central reason for the filing delay. For step-children, the marriage creating the stepchild relationship must occur before the child reaches 18 years of age. For adopted children, generally, the child must be adopted while
under the age of 16.11 The abused childs unmarried children under the age of 21 may be derivatives But What About Bigamy? An abused intended spouse may qualify. An intended spouse is a person who believes that she/he was married to a U.S. citizen or LPR and a marriage ceremony was performed, but the marriage was not valid because of the bigamy of the U.S. citizen or LPR. Special Rules About Former USCs, LPRS, Divorce & Death The abuse may have occurred before the abuser became a U.S. citizen or LPR.
If the abuser loses or renounces his U.S. citizenship or LPR status and the loss or renunciation of U.S. citizenship or LPR status was related to an incident of domestic violence, the victim may still qualify to self-petition. That self-petition, however, must be filed within two years of the date the abuser loses or renounces his U.S. citizenship or LPR status. If the client divorced the abuser, they must show that the battering or extreme cruelty led to or caused the divorce, and evidence submitted to meet the core eligibility requirements may be sufficient to demonstrate a connection between the divorce and the battering or extreme mental cruelty. Once the VAWA self-petition is filed, the self-petitioner can divorce her spouse and this will not affect the self-petition, but he or she cannot remarry before the petition is approved.
Must Establish The Fact of the Marriage Must establish legal marriage to the USC or LPR & that it was in good faith Must be a legal marriage, or marriage in a state where common law marriage is recognized, for example, Texas, or that this was an intended marriage. To establish good faith, the client must show that the couple intended to establish a life together. It does not require the client to remain with her abuser. Even a marriage that is short-lived, a client can still establish good faith. Must Show Battery or Extreme Cruelty
Hitting, punching, slapping, kicking, or hurting the client in any way, as well as threats to do any of the same Sexual abuse, molestation, rape, or forced prostitution, as well as threats to do any of the same Threats to turn the client into immigration authorities Exerting undue control over the client, where they go, and with whom they associate, and/or forcibly detaining the client Look at the cumulative effect of the acts to find pattern of abuse Engaging in a pattern of acts that when considered alone would not
normally constitute abuse; and/or Must Show Battery or Extreme Cruelty Threats or committed acts of violence against a third person or thing, such as animals or objects, in order to scare or force the client to submit Abusive acts that on their face do not appear violent but are part of a pattern of abuse, such as economic abuse, not allowing the client to obtain a job, degrading /insulting / humiliating the client / social isolation, accusations of cheating. Even a person who may have never been physically abused, may still qualify if they can show a pattern of extreme cruelty. Residence With the Abuser
The client must have lived with the abuser at some point, either inside or outside the U.S. (does not currently have to be living with the abuser) Must establish that the client is currently residing in the United States Must establish that the abuse occurred in the United States, or if the abuse occurred in a foreign company, that the USC or LPR is an employee of the U.S> government or armed forces. Must Possess Good Moral Character A person cannot show good moral character if he/she is a habitual drunkard, engaged in prostitution within the last 10 years before filing, engaged in commercial vice, or smuggling people into the U.S., or has admitted to or been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude (exception for petty offenses or crimes committed as a minor and more than 5
years before applying) Controlled substance offenses (except simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana Has gambling as their main source of income or been convicted of two or more gambling offenses Has falsely applied for an immigration benefit Was incarcerated for 180 days or more as a result of a conviction Has a conviction for an aggravated felony as defined in INA 101(a)(43), where the conviction was entered on or after November 29, 1990 (except for conviction of murder, which is bar to good moral character regardless of the date of conviction).
Must demonstrate good moral character for the past three years What If We Cannot Prove Good Moral Character? There is an exception to the good moral character requirement. INA 204(a)(1)(C). Under that exception, even if the client committed an act or has a conviction listed under INA 101(f), that act or conviction does not bar the immigration authorities from finding that the client is a person of good moral character self-petitioner is a person of good moral character if (1) the act or conviction is waivable if the client can show that the act or conviction was connected somehow to the abuse suffered.
Must look at the INA 212 inadmissibility grounds and the INA 237 deportability grounds to determine if the act or conviction is waivable. What Forms Do You Need To Apply Write a detailed well argued cover letter which gives the adjudicator a roadmap to the evidence of abuse, that the client meets the requirements, and why a waiver is appropriate in order to establish good moral character (i.e. connection of the act / conviction to the abuse) Form I-360 VAWA Self-Petition Copy of the clients birth certificate and identity documents Marriage certificate and any documents showing prior lawful
immigration status of the client Client affidavit signed and notarized outlining the abuse and how the client meets all the eligibility requirements What Should the Client Affidavit Contain? Name, date of birth, and place of birth of client List all past entries and exits from the United States Description of how the client met and married the abuser Names, dates of birth, and places of birth for all children
A detailed description of all the incidents of abuse and extreme cruelty Medical records and information if available Information regarding the clients arrests and convictions, dates of arrests and convictions, and the final disposition and sentence. If it is a spousal abuse case, a statement whether the client is still married to the abuser. How Do I Prove the Abuser is a USC or LPR U.S. birth certificate
U.S. passport LPR card Application for marriage license Childs birth certificate showing the abusers birthplace Client affidavit stating how she knows that the abuser is a USC or LPR Notarized letters from family or friends
If the abuser obtained LPR or citizenship through naturalization, you can also submit a request to USCIS to search agency records. How Do I Prove a Legal & Good Faith Marriage Client affidavit Marriage certificate Divorce certificate or death certificate for all prior marriages for the client and the abuser Birth certificates and school records for their children listing both parents
Leases listing both their names U.S. income taxes jointly filed, or listing the client as a dependent Bills in both their names Photographs of the wedding Notarized letters from family or friends Notarized letter from their landlord or any correspondence received in both their
names at their joint address Other Important Documents to Submit All police reports documenting the abuse Certified disposition for all criminal cases of abuser, including orders of protection Medical records, mental health records, or letters from domestic violence counselors or child welfare workers aware of the abuse Local police clearance letter or state-issued criminal background check for all places where the client has lived for six months or more during the three year period before filing the VAWA self-petition
Notarized letters of family and friends School records for children Q&A