Photograph: Washburn Law Clinic.

Immigration Clinic

Students representing clients in immigration matters learn first-hand how national policy and laws are applied to foreign individuals and families living in America. This experience focuses on helping victims of crime and abuse and children who have entered the U.S. with their parents.

Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Immigration Cases

Interns may be assigned immigration cases that come under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 1994. VAWA was passed to protect non-citizens who are married to an abusive spouse who is a citizen or lawful permanent resident. The battering spouse uses the non-citizen spouse's status as a means to control and continue the cycle of abuse. VAWA allows the abused spouse to self-petition to secure deffered action status and the right to work in the United States. The intern must develop interviewing skills to gain trust so the client will disclose highly sensitive information regarding her past and plight.

Battered Spouse Waiver Cases

A U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who marries someone from a foreign country may file documents to help the spouse secure documented status in the U.S. If the couple have been married for less that 2 years, the spouse is only given a conditional residency status. Unless a waiver applies, the applicant and spouse must file a joint petition to remove the condition 90 days before the end of the two-year period. However, in some unfortunate circumstances, the spouse is subjected to battering or extreme cruelty during that two-year period and the joint petition will not be filed on his or her behalf. In these cases, the battered spouse may file for a waiver of the of the joint petition. Interns help victims submit proof of good faith marriage, abuse, and extreme hardship if the client is removed from the U.S.

U-Visa Cases

Recognizing that our communities are safer when victims of crime cooperate with law enforcement and prosecutors, lawmakers created the U-Visa for immigrant crime victims who might otherwise fear deportation if they stepped forward and sought the protection of the law. Victims who have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse, possess information concerning the crime, and been helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity may be eligible for a U-Visa. Interns gather documentation to apply for the visa, learn the complicated intricacies of immigration waivers, and prepare the forms necessary to file with immigration. Holders of a U-Visa enjoy legal status and work authorization for four years and may thereafter apply to be a lawful permanent resident.

Deferred Action for Children (DACA) Cases

By administrative order, individuals who are under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, and came to the U.S. before reaching their 16th birthday, may be eligible for deferred action and work authorization for two years, subject to renewal. These young people must also demonstrate they have continuously been in the U.S. for five years; entered the U.S. without inspection or have expired legal status as of June 15, 2012; have a good criminal record; and are currently in or have completed high school or a GED program or been honorably discharged from the military. All of these elements must be carefully and thoroughly documented. The intern will interview the client, complete the forms, and make sure each requirement is included in the packet submitted to immigration.

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) Immigration Cases

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) provides a way for undocumented juveniles in foster care to gain lawful permanent residency status and a green card to work. The juveniles must be in foster care because of abuse, neglect, or abandonment and unable to reunite with their parents. Interns representing these children research the requirements of the law, gather documents from local and foreign jurisdictions, complete immigration documents, and accompany the youth to an interview in Kansas City with officials who will determine if legal status should be granted. Interns help these juveniles gain legal status so when they are released from State's custody they have an opportunity to work and safely stay in the United States.

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Faculty Member
Photograph: Lynette Petty.
Assistant Dean for Accommodation and Associate Professor of Law Lynette Petty