President Obama unveiled his immigration reform plan that would protect more than four million immigrants from deportation on November 20, 2014. His plans will benefit less than half of the undocumented immigrant population living in the U.S. and not everyone. Those ineligible for relief under the new immigration rule believe that the only thing they can do is to wait for the U.S. Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill. However, that may not happen immediately and they can look for other options that are available now.
One thing those ineligible for relief under the President’s plan can do is to apply for “Cancellation of Removal.” Undocumented immigrants can apply for Cancellation of Removal if they are in removal proceedings before an immigration judge. To qualify, they will need to establish that they have been living in the U.S. for ten years or more. They must possess good moral character and prove that if they are removed from the U.S., their relatives in the U.S. who are legal residents or U.S. citizens will suffer unusual hardship. If they are found to be eligible, the Attorney General may cancel removal in their cases even if they are deportable from the U.S. Eligible individuals will be allowed to get green cards and remain in the U.S.
Many undocumented immigrants in the U.S. who have been physically or emotionally abused remain in the shadows and do not report crimes due to fear that they may be removed from the U.S. Such individuals are unaware of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This act is meant for men and women who have been abused. Husband or wife and children of U.S. citizens and green card holders and parents of U.S. citizens can apply for VAWA. They can self-petition for themselves without assistance from their relatives. However, they must establish that they have been physically or mentally abused. If their applications are approved, they will be allowed to remain legally in the U.S.
The above are the two other options available to the undocumented immigrants. However, they can apply VAWA or for Cancellation of Removal only if they are eligible. They can also check if they are eligible for provisional waivers as the President’s immigration reform plan has also expanded the provisional waiver program. If they are ineligible for the above and for legal status under Obama’s immigration reform, they will need to wait for the U.S. Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform.