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Do You Qualify For A Green Card Or Visa Through A Special Program?

We Can Help Open Doors For Your Success
Many Immigrants Don’t Even Know Exist

Every year, we help immigrants qualify for benefits under special programs.

Some of these programs, like asylum and temporary protected status, are well known because they are talked about in the news. Others, rarely discussed in the media, are relatively unknown by the general public.

Some of these programs, like the Violence Against Women Act or NACARA, allow clients to move directly to permanent resident status. Others, such as Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals, offer only short-term benefits.

Yet, brief, limited programs can protect you from deportation, allow you to work legally in the U.S, and become a springboard to earning green cards for you and your family in the future, like the U Visa program.

Table Of Contents

  1. What Are The Different Types Of Programs To Help You Win a Green Card?
  2. Two Ways To Win A Green Card Through Special Immigration Programs
  3. Humanitarian Green Cards And Immigration Programs
  4. Abuse Protection Green Cards And Immigration Programs
  5. Country-Specific Green Cards And Immigration Programs
  6. Other Green Cards And Immigration Programs

What Special Immigration Programs Help You Win Permanent Residence?

It’s likely there are special immigration programs you have never read about.

That’s okay. You’re not alone.

Immigration law is far more complicated than most folks realize.


It is not uncommon for immigration experts to claim the names of various programs and visas resemble a dizzying array of acroynms and abbreviations.


Few non-immigration specialists grasp the full range of options available to immigrants and their families.

On this page, you will learn about the most common special immigration programs which help individuals born outside the U.S. earn permanent resident status.

Even if you’ve never heard of certain programs, we’re here to discuss your eligibility.

And more than that, we’re ready to guide you through any program which benefits you and your family.

In short, there are four types of special immigration programs that may help you – and your family members – win permanent residency benefits.

Humanitarian Programs

  • Asylum
  • Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
  • Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Abuse Protection Programs

  • Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
  • Visas For Victims Of Crime (U Visas)
  • Visas For Victims Of Trafficking (T Visas)

Country-Specific Programs

  • Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA)
  • Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA)
  • Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act (LRIF)
  • Visas For Iraqi And Afghan Employees And Translators
  • Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program (FWVP)

Other Permanent Residence Programs

  • Registry
  • Diversity Lottery

Two Ways To Win A Green Card Through
Special Immigration Programs:
Affirmative And Defensive Filings

There are two ways to win your case under these programs.

The first option is known as an affirmative filing. This occurs when you apply for immigration benefits. Your application and supporting materials are submitted to a government office that handles such types of cases. An affirmative filing might be filed at a local, regional, or national office.

The second option is known as a defensive filing. This takes place at immigration court where you intend to present your claim to a judge. As the name implies, these types of applications are used for your defense against deportation and removal.

At many Immigration Court hearings, deportation trials, and immigration appeals, the main issue becomes whether you meet the qualifications for one of these special programs. The stakes are high.  You win, you earn a green card.  You lose, you face deportation.

Since each of these programs have different requirements, it is not advisable to handle them without the help of an immigration specialist.

Humanitarian Protection
Green Card Programs

For some immigrants, leaving their country is a life or death situation. Some immigration programs offer assistance to these individuals.


To qualify for asylum, clients must prove they have a legitimate fear of persecution in their home country based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Examples of such social groups include women subjected to female genital mutilation and people with the HIV virus.

Tawfik escaped Lebanon shortly after Israel disbanded its buffer zone and stopped supporting the buffer zone’s peace-keeping force. As militant groups started capturing, torturing, and killing former peace-keeping employees, Tawfik fled for his safety.

At the U.S. – Canadian border, Tawfik tried to claim a French identity using documents he obtained when he was a French college student. He came to the U.S. instead of going back to France because he feared the militants could find him there. He was arrested and placed in removal proceedings.

When we meet with Tawfik at our San Diego immigration lawyer office, we explain few asylum cases are successful. To show legitimate fear of persecution, he would need to provide evidence of membership in the peace-keeping force and the deliberate torturing of former peace-keeping employees.

Temporary Protected Status

TPS allows immigrants from countries in turmoil to live and work temporarily in the United States. The turmoil may be due to a huge national disaster, a major civil war, or other severe conditions. When the home country’s conditions improve, the right to stay in the U.S. ends.

Currently, the program is under danger of being terminated by the current administration. Only immigrants from Honduras, Nepal, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen still qualify for ongoing Temporary Protected Status benefits.

Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals

Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA), one of the best known special immigration programs, allows immigrant youth to avoid deportation and received work authorization for a limited period of time. Applicants must have came to the United States before the age of 16, resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, and were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012.

Abuse Protection Green Card Programs

Since immigrants are easy targets for criminals, some programs have been designed to protect victims of abuse, cruelty, unlawful acts, and human trafficking.

Violence Against Women Act

Sometimes U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents take advantage of their status and abuse their immigrant spouse and children. The abusers withhold petitions to immigrate their family members. If we can prove the history of extreme cruelty, under the Violence Against Women Act, commonly referred to as VAWA, victims are allowed to seek green cards and obtain permanent resident status on their own, without the abuser’s consent.

Claudia’s father, a lawful permanent resident, physically and verbally abused her mother and older siblings.

Claudia had observed the abuse since she was a small child. Her anxiety attracted the attention of school officials. They placed her in special counseling programs. She hid the family abuse.

Richard never filed papers to help his family become legal residents. Since they lacked immigration documents, Richard knew they were afraid to seek help from the police. They saw no way out of the abuse.

Just before Claudia graduated from high school, her father deserted the family. A few months later, Claudia was apprehended by immigration officials and threatened with removal from the  U. S.  Seeking deportation defense, Claudia contacted our Riverside immigration lawyer office.

Claudia asked us if there was any way she could remain in the United States, where she had lived for 18 years. We explained she might be eligible for immigration benefits under the Violence Against Women Act. To win her case, she would have to overcome her reluctance to talk about her experiences. She would need to work closely with us to present strong evidence of Richard’s extreme abuse and cruelty.

U Visas For Victims Of Crime

Congress created the U Visa program for immigrant victims of crime. To qualify, a U Visa applicant must have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse as well as assisted law enforcement authorities in the investigation and prosecution of those crimes. The program seeks to strengthen the law enforcement community’s ability to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other crimes perpetuated on Immigrants. Recent policy changes have been implemented to better provide stability for victims and their family members.

T Visas For Victims Of Trafficking

Trafficking is the use of coercion, deception, or force for the purpose of placing men, women, or children in slavery or slavery-like conditions. An estimated 14,500 to 17,5000 persons are trafficked into the U.S. each year. About 70% of the victims are women, 50% are children. For immigrant victims of trafficking, the government has created “T” visas.

Dora, age 17, was born and raised in a poor village in Honduras. She fell in love with Julio.

Julio convinced Dora to travel to the United States, live with his relatives, and earn money until he could join her. Once they were together in the U.S., he told her, they would get married.

Julio’s relatives helped smuggle Dora into the U.S. They subjected her to frequent beatings. She was forced to work as a prostitute.

One evening she was arrested. Because she did not have proper immigration documents, she was sent to Immigration Court to be deported. Knowing the truth about Julio, Dora feared going home where she would have no protection.

After consulting with our San Bernardino immigration attorney office, Dora was surprised to learn she might be able to remain in the United States until things cooled down. We explained she might qualify for a special temporary visa. She would have to provide the government with credible evidence about her story of abuse.

Country-Specific Green Card Programs

From time to time programs are created to benefit immigrants from specific countries due to political, social, or economic reasons related to their homelands.

The Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act

The Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) was passed by Congress in 1997 after nearly a decade of law suits regarding asylum claims. Generally, there are two parts to NACARA. The first part is for immigrants from Nicaragua and Cuba. The second part pertains to immigrants from Guatemala and El Salvador, as well as to immigrants from former Soviet Union bloc countries: Russia, Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Yugoslavia.

Cuban Adjustment Act

Under the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 (CAA), immigrants from Cuba apply for permanent resident status if they have been present in the United States for “one year and one day,” if they have been admitted or paroled by the U.S. government.  Nearly all Cubans are allowed admission or parole if they reach the shores of the U.S. and they express fear of returning to Cuba.

Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act

On December 20, 2019, the Liberian Refugee Fairness Act (LRIF) was born. Akin to the Cuban Adjustment Act, the program is generous in its qualifying provisions. The program enables Liberians immigrants who have been present in the United States since November 20, 2014 – as well as their spouses and unmarried children – to become green card holders, without having to return to their country of origin.

However, in order to qualify, Liberans must apply by December 20, 2020. Given the widespread outbreak of the Coronavirus shortly afterwards, and the shut down of government offices, many potential beneficiaries have been unable or deterred from seeking benefits under LRIF. Given this history, it is hoped that the program will be extended to enable Liberians to seek green card status.

Visas For Iraqi And Afghan Employees And Translators

In July 2008, the United States government implemented a new program to help Iraqi employees of the U.S. obtain visas and U.S. citizenship. To qualify, Iraqi immigrants have to prove they worked on behalf of the U.S. for at least one year and face threats due to their assistance to the United States.

In the following year, a similar program was approved by Congress for Afghan immigrants who assisted the U.S. government and military abroad during certain periods of hostilities.

However, only a small percentage of visas approved by Congress have been actually issued under the Iraqi and Afghan Translators And Interpreters Program to date.

Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program

The Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program (FWVP) is the outgrowth of a promise made to Filipino soldiers in 1946. The program allows Filipino World War II veterans’ spouses, sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters living abroad, who have approved I-130 family-based petitions to enter the United States while they await for their visas to become available, at which time they can file for permanent resident status.

Other Permanent Residence Options Through Special Immigration Programs

Because immigration law is tied to international events, various programs emerge over time to meet special concerns of the U.S. government.


Under Registry, immigrants who have lived in the United States since 1972 may qualify for permanent resident benefits. It does not matter how you arrived – whether you crossed the border from Canada or Mexico without proper documents or you entered on a tourist visa and decided to remain here.

You must prove that you have been a person of good moral character for the entire period. In many cases, a harder challenge is proving you have lived in the United States continuously since 1972. Typically, you need to provide housing, employment, income tax, vehicle registration, driver license, medical, and school records.

The best news is that when you are granted permanent residence under registry, your green card is backdated to January 1, 1972. This allows you to immediately apply to naturalization and become a U.S. citizen.

To view questions submitted by clients regarding special immigration programs, click here: Special Immigration Programs Questions And Answers

Diversity Immigration Lottery

To qualify as a diversity immigrant, you must have been born in a country with a low rate of immigration to the United States. Each year, 55,000 visas are made available by the Diversity Lottery Program. The program randomly selects from among the applicants those who can apply to get a green card.

Since no ties to relatives in the U.S. are required, the program is intended to allow a more diverse group of people to qualify for permanent residence. The time frame to apply and submit your paperwork is very short, so clients need to get ready in advance. If selected, you will be allowed to bring your spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 to the United States.

If you’re serious about discovering how to win permanent residence through a special immigration program, with fresh eyes in a comprehensive manner . . .

Let’s schedule your Strategy And Planning Session today.

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