Immigration amnesty is a concept that allows certain non-U.S. citizen aliens to stay in the United States, either temporarily or permanently. These are often persons who are fleeing conditions of religious or political persecution in their country of origin.
Amnesty generally refers to a person is has already entered the U.S., but entered illegally. They are typically granted a pardon for the illegal entry. In comparison, refugee or asylum laws sometimes cover situations where the person has not yet fled from their home country.
Which Persons Qualify for Amnesty Protection?
The granting of amnesty is usually done on an individual, case by case basis. However, most instances of amnesty require that the person meet certain requirements, such as:
- No record of criminal charges
- Residency in the U.S. continuously (10-20 years usually)
- The person will not be a "charge" or burden to the state if granted citizenship
Lastly, the person must be able to prove that they would face direct, real, and not imaginary threats if they were required to return to their home country. An example of a real threat would be if the person’s family was singled out by their last name and subject to persecution, interrogations, or physical harm. They must be able to document the persecution that exists in their country.
Immigration amnesty is a somewhat rarer form of migration, but it has been consistently applied over the decades, especially for persons and families facing conditions of extreme political persecution.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Immigration Amnesty Requests?
Filing for amnesty often involves much paperwork and can involve many different steps. You may wish to hire an immigration attorney for help filing your requests. Your attorney can provide you with guidance and advice for your application. Also, if you need to attend an interview or hearing, your attorney can represent you during those situations.