Worried about my friend's immigration status
May 18, 2017 10:06 PM   Subscribe

I'm really worried for my friend. She came here as a 13 or 14 year old from Cameroon with her mother. She's 25 now. Her mother recently became a citizen.

My friend applied for permanent residency but was denied on the grounds that she needs to reapply for her asylum because she can no longer claim it under her mother's asylum status. She applied a few weeks to a month ago and hasn't heard back yet. She lives in the Dallas area so she'll have to drive down to Houston for the interview if they accept it. I'm worried they'll deny her even that much. I was heartened to see that Trump seems to be favoring Cameroonian immigrants however. How much should I be worried and what, if anything, can I do for her?
posted by bookman117 to Law & Government (9 answers total)
I'm sorry to say that the article you've linked is, to the best of my knowledge, fake (it's on tv-bbc.com, not an official BBC site). There have been a number of fake "Trump grants visa free travel to country X" articles lately; no new countries have been added to the Visa Waiver Program, nor would such a waiver (which is for visitor visas) apply in your friend's case.

Does your friend have any legal advice from an immigration lawyer? Given the importance of getting this right, it really seems like this is a situation that calls for professional help from someone experienced with asylum cases. Perhaps you could help your friend identify legal aid resources to at least try to get some advice if she can't afford a lawyer.
posted by zachlipton at 10:14 PM on May 18, 2017 [4 favorites]

Yeah, she definitely needs to be talking to a lawyer, and you can help her find one who she can afford. Here's a list of non-profits that provide immigration help in Texas.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:23 PM on May 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

She did speak with a lawyer who gave her a free consult. She was basically just told to fill out the asylum application as quickly as possible, which is what she's done (this was after her permanent residency was denied but before she had submitted her asylum application).
posted by bookman117 at 10:25 PM on May 18, 2017

I'm in Cameroon and doubt that your friend will have sufficient grounds to claim asylum, lest she can justify some form of persecution from the state. This, from a country she left 10 years ago. She had best consult an immigration lawyer to prepare for a rejection, while waiting for the outcome of her application.

But, you should also understand that, there is a fair chance that your friend might be refused asylum, so prepare for that.
posted by Kwadeng at 12:42 AM on May 19, 2017

I'm in Cameroon and doubt that your friend will have sufficient grounds to claim asylum, lest she can justify some form of persecution from the state.

I believe it's based on the fact that she's an English speaker.
posted by bookman117 at 1:07 AM on May 19, 2017

I believe it's based on the fact that she's an English speaker.

While the government is clearly mishandling the Anglophone crisis and denying English speakers the opportunities they deserve, an asylum claim is based on proof of individual persecution, rather than the mere fact that you belong to a disadvantage group. Homosexuality is illegal here but you cannot claim asylum abroad just because you're gay. You need to prove that the state is after you, specifically.

I don't want to belittle your concerns. I just want you to be aware that asylum claims from Cameroonians are, in many cases, a channel for economic immigration (and there's nothing wrong with seeking greener pastures) and the US Immigration is probably well aware of that.

I know this is not what you want to hear but just keep in mind that things may not go the way you want. I'd consider consulting an Immigration lawyer a second time to understand your options should the claim be rejected.

Good luck to your friend!
posted by Kwadeng at 1:46 AM on May 19, 2017 [3 favorites]

One thing you can do is avoid disclosing her status unless she okays you sharing it in each specific instance.

Not a bad idea to ask the mods to anonymize this...maybe that's crazy paranoid but these are crazy times.
posted by kapers at 8:16 AM on May 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

A month is not a long time at all for a visa application. If she's worried about the wait time I know you can check the status of your claims here for most types of immigration cases, not sure about refugee cases.

In the worst case scenario, as her mother is citizen, she may be able to sponsor her daughter. Citizens can sponsor unmarried adult children. You do have to have a certain level of income to do so & be willing to say you'll pay any expenses they incur for a certain length of time (so they don't go on social security or disability etc) and some other requirements. Her daughter would most likely have to go back to Cameroon though and wait for the application to be processed etc which can take a long time. Technically she can apply to adjust the status of a visa if she was on one, as she's not I would not be sure exactly what they'd allow her to do there and I'm not sure how failed applications for other visas would effect the attempt. She really needs to talk to a lawyer.

The good news is she'd be a preference 1 category which would give her the shortest wait time.


Again as this is a complicated case, she should really go see a lawyer, and I say this as someone that processed her own very straight forward immigration paperwork & think people often over lawyer up in immigration applications. This case needs a lawyer on board.
posted by wwax at 9:30 AM on May 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

The problem is, there's really no way to know what the Trump administration is going to do next, especially with regard to immigration. I'm not an immigration lawyer, but I work pretty closely with some immigration lawyers. What they're telling me is that unless you are a US citizen, pretty much every status has some risk, and the rules are changing on a pretty regular basis, unpredictably. Is your friend undocumented at this moment? She really needs a lawyer to walk her through the entire process. Unfortunately, there have been cases where people have come in for interviews with government agents related to their adjustment of status/citizenship process, and they've been taken into custody and deported. There are also a lot of unscrupulous people, like the ones who run that first site you like to, who are trying to take advantage of people's fear. If there's any possible way your friend can afford it, she should have a lawyer to walk her through the process. Because I don't want to be unnecessarily alarmist, but if she is out of status, she may be in real danger of being deported, and she needs to make sure that she does absolutely everything absolutely right in order to have the best chance of avoiding that.

posted by decathecting at 3:50 PM on May 20, 2017

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