It is important for individuals who have been released into the US to know that they have the right to an immigration lawyer, but the US government will not pay for one. Non-profit organizations may offer free or low-cost legal services, and private lawyers can be found through online resources. Passing a credible fear interview does not mean a person has asylum, and parole is a temporary status that does not lead to permanent residency. People with parole can apply for work authorization, but not residency. The Notice to Appear is a document that starts the process of deportation or proving the right to remain in the US, and court dates can change. ICE check-ins are separate from immigration court dates and are a condition of release from detention. It is important to follow the conditions on orders of release, as failure to comply can result in detention.
How Can A Person Find an Immigration Lawyer in the US?
Everyone has a right to an immigration lawyer, but that only means that:
- People are allowed to have a lawyer assist with their immigration case.
- If someone has a lawyer, they have a right to have them present for court dates and government meetings or interviews.
- The US government will not pay for a lawyer for immigration proceedings. But many non-profit organizations offer free or low-cost legal services - so it may still be possible to get a free or affordable lawyer. Here is a good resource for trying to find a lawyer through a non-profit organization: https://www.immigrationadvocates.org/legaldirectory.
- Sometimes the organizations that provide free lawyers have no one available or do not serve someone in a particular area. In that case, it might be necessary to try find and pay for a private lawyer. Here is a good resource for finding private lawyers: https://help.asylumadvocacy.org/private-attorneys/. Remember that private lawyers charge for their services.
- The US government should give people who are detained in the United States, including in CBP custody, a list of free lawyers. If at all possible, it is best to call the numbers on that list and try to connect with a lawyer before government interviews. See more information about a common type of government interview, called a “credible fear interview,” here.
- Remember that people who want to apply for asylum in the US must apply within one year of your arrival in the US, even if they have not found a lawyer.
- Everyone has a right to an immigration lawyer, but that only means that:
What Comes After Being Paroled into the United States?
What Does It Mean to Have Parole?
- Parole is a temporary status for a set period of time.
- It lets a person enter the US lawfully, but there’s no pathway from parole to permanent status. This means that once in the US on parole, if people want to stay in the US they need to start looking for another way to stay permanently. This may be by claiming asylum or applying for another status.
- Parole does provide a chance to apply for a work permit. The work permit will expire when the parole expires.
- Before parole expires – and as soon as possible – it is best to try to find a lawyer and, if a person is eligible, apply for a more permanent form of relief.
- People can sometimes renew parole before it expires, but sometimes there is no way to renew parole.
- Sometimes the immigration officials provide information about the parole period on a piece of paper, and sometimes it is necessary to go online to know what the parole period is.
Once a person is released from custody, is the case over?
- No. Being released from detention and granted parole for a certain amount of time does not mean the immigration case is over. It just means a person was allowed into the US temporarily.
- To be able to remain lawfully in the United States (and to bring some family members and be able to travel), people have to apply for and win something other than parole.
Does Passing a Credible Fear Interview Mean a Person Has Asylum?
No. This interview is basically the first test to see if a person is allowed to even apply for asylum at all. If a person passed the credible fear interview, they are allowed to apply for asylum. But it is necessary to submit the application and then follow the case through to the end and win it to get asylum.
Can People with Parole Bring Their Children to the US?
- Usually not. Parole is just for the individual who was issued it.
- For most people, to bring your family to the United States, it is necessary to apply for and receive another status. This usually takes years.
- However, people from Guatemala, Honduras, or El Salvador, who have at least one unmarried child under the age of 21 in your country, and who were issued parole of one year or more, can apply for the Central American Minors Program.
Is Parole Indefinite? When Does It End? Is It Possible to Renew It?
- Parole is not indefinite - it does not go on forever. It has an expiration date. The officer who grants a person parole determines the end date of that parole. The small piece of paper the government gives to a person with parole, or the stamp in their passport, or what an online page says when one searches for “I-94 Official Website,” will tell you the end date.
- There is not one answer to the question of whether a person can renew parole. Some kinds of parole are renewable, some kinds are not, and some kinds are theoretically renewable but in practice it never happens. And whatever the rule is today, it can easily change by the time a person needs to renew their parole.
Can People with Parole Apply for Work Authorization?
Yes. It is possible to apply for work authorization based on parole. One can search for “I-765 USCIS” and file an application online or by mail as someone who has received parole. There are many resources online available to help people apply for work permits.
Can People with Parole Apply for Residency?
No. For certain types of parole, the US Congress authorized becoming a legal permanent resident based on the parole alone. But no one who is paroled in at the US-Mexico border is able to become a legal permanent resident based on their parole. Instead, the way to remain permanently in the US lawfully is by applying for something else, like asylum or a humanitarian visa or a family-based petition.
What does a Notice to Appear (NTA) Mean?
What Is It?
The Notice to Appear is a document that starts the process of two things:
- the government trying to deport a person through immigration court proceedings and
- a person trying to prove they have a right to remain in the United States.
The Notice has a lot of important information on it – but also information that can rapidly change.
- The Notice has something called an A Number or File Number at the top right hand corner of the page – it is nine digits long. This is a number that stays with a person on all their applications and proceedings in the US. It is important to keep this number in a safe place. It is helpful to have this number available to track all aspects of an immigration case.
- The Notice may say when a person has their first court date and where. This is towards the bottom of the page. Sometimes the Notice does not include a date for court – a person with a Notice will probably still have court! Even if the Notice lists a court date, that date can change at any time.
How Can a Person Know When They Have Court?
- The best way to know if and where a person has court is to call 1-800-898-7180. It is an automated machine where a person must enter their A Number, and it tells the caller when the person with that number has court (if there is a scheduled court date). It is recommended to call this number about once a week in case the information changes.
- Even if the 1-800 number says a person has court, it is possible they do not, in fact, have court. But a person should still always go to court if the 1-800 number says they have court.
What if a Person Moves Far from the Court?
- If a person moves or changes addresses, near or far, they have to inform the court within five days of moving. It is possible to do this by googling “Change of Address Form EOIR” or going to: https://respondentaccess.eoir.justice.gov/en/forms/eoir33ic/.
- When a person informs the court of their new current address, the court will usually change the hearing from its current location to the new location of the court closer to the new address.
What Happens if a Person Misses a Court Date?
- If a person does not go to court on time on the day of the hearing, they will probably receive a deportation order. That means that the person can be arrested and deported at any time, although it does not necessarily mean they will be deported right away.
- When a person realizes they have missed their court date and/or realizes they have a deportation order, they should find a lawyer as soon as possible to try to reopen the case if possible.
Can a Court Date Change?
- Yes, court dates can change. Today, the next court date in a case could be scheduled for two years from now. Tomorrow, the next hearing date could be scheduled for next week.
- It is recommended to check the 1-800-898-7180 immigration court phone hotline or the immigration court website (google “EOIR Portal”) about once a week.
What Does an Order of Release on Recognizance and/or Order of Supervision Mean?
What Is It?
- An Order of Release on Recognizance and Order of Supervision are common forms from ICE that let a person not be detained only on certain conditions. The conditions are listed on the forms where there are check boxes or anything written in. Typically, a person with an order must get permission to move before moving and must go to local ICE field offices to “report” so that the US government can verify the person’s location and find them if necessary.
- It is important to follow the conditions on these orders, because if people do not comply, they can be detained.
Is an ICE Check-In Date the Same as an Immigration Court Date?
- No. Often ICE schedules report or check-in dates for the same date as an immigration court hearing, but that’s just a convenience: they are two totally separate appointments in different locations and with different people.
- Immigration court is with a judge behind a desk or on a video screen speaking very formally. ICE check-ins do not have judges.
How Can a Person Know When an ICE Check-In Is?
The Order of Release on Recognizance or Order of Supervision says the date of the next check-in.
Why does A Person have an ICE Check-In?
The ICE check-ins are just a condition of release from detention, because otherwise immigration could detain the person. So this is the US government’s way of letting a person not be detained in the US but still having to show up when required to show the US government that they are still complying with their terms of their release.
What Happens if a Person Misses a Check-In?
Technically, ICE can add people who miss check-ins to a “fugitives” list and detain them when they do encounter them. In practice, if a person missed their check-in for a good reason, like it was impossible to enter the building, they had a medical emergency, they did not understand that they had the check-in at all, etc., ICE will allow them to check-in the next time they go to their check-in location and will then give the person a new date to check in again. It is helpful to have a lawyer assist when a person has missed a check-in.
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