A Self-Help Guide for Detained Refugees Facing Deportation
Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project
WARNING: This manual has information about immigration law and practice but it is not a substitute
for legal advice. If possible, try to find a lawyer to represent you in Immigration Court. If you cannot find
a lawyer, you may represent yourself.
This manual does not cover every issue that may come up in a deportation case. PAIR Project’s Self-Help
Manual for People Detained by the Immigration Service has additional information.
Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project
98 North Washington Street, Suite 106
Boston, MA 02114
Phone: (617) 742-9296
Fax: (617) 742-9385
This manual was prepared primarily by Sarah Sherman-Stokes, Equal Justice Works Fellow at the PAIR Project.
Special thanks to the detainees who provided helpful feedback on earlier drafts of this manual and to the Florence
Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project from whose excellent materials the checklist in Appendix A is adapted.
Table of Contents
o Who is this manual for?
o How do I know if I am a refugee?
o How do I know if I am in removal proceedings?
o If I am a detained refugee in removal proceedings, how can this manual help me?
What is a refugee waiver?....................................................................................................6
o Who is eligible to apply?
o What if I have been convicted of crimes?
o How do I apply?
o The balancing test
o Special standard for refugees convicted of “violent or dangerous” crimes
Building your case……………………………………………………………………….10
o How do I convince the judge that I deserve a 209(c) waiver and adjustment of
o Letters of support and witnesses
Preparing for the full Immigration Court hearing……………………………………......16
o What will happen at the hearing?
o What questions will the Immigration Judge or Government lawyer ask?
Appealing the Immigration Judge’s decision……………………………………………19
o Rhode Island
o Court Preparation Checklist
o Sample Letter of Support
o Sample Certificate of Translation
o Sample Certificate of Service
Who is this manual for?
This manual is for refugees who never got their green cards and are detained in jail and in
removal proceedings before the Immigration Court. Applying for a green card is called
“adjustment of status” to lawful permanent residency.
How do I know if I am a refugee?
Here are some ways to tell if you are a “refugee”:
o You were living in a refugee camp before you arrived in the United States
o Your I-94 card says “indefinitely admitted as a refugee”
o You were designated a refugee in another country, before arriving in the United
What if I won asylum, but I am now detained?
This manual also applies to you if you never got your green card.
How do I know if I am in removal proceedings?
If Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has given you a Notice to Appear (Form
I-862), then you are in removal proceedings. A Notice to Appear looks like this:
How can this manual help me?
This manual is not a substitute for legal advice. But this manual does explain a way to try
to stop your deportation if you are a refugee or asylee who does not have a green card.
You may be able to stop your deportation by applying for a 209(c) waiver and adjustment
of status. You may also be eligible for other defenses to deportation that are not covered
in this manual, for example, asylum.
This manual also provides resources for refugees after they have been released from
detention, such as mental health services, housing, education and job training and
substance abuse programs.
What is a Refugee Waiver?
Who is eligible to apply?
A refugee “waiver” is a special defense to deportation for refugees who do not already have
green cards and who have been convicted of a crime that makes them “inadmissible” to the
United States. Section 209(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) waives or “excuses”
certain grounds of inadmissibility “for humanitarian purposes, to assure family unity, or when it
is otherwise in the public interest.” INA § 209(c).
You may apply for this waiver to excuse certain criminal convictions if:
(1) You were admitted to the United States as a refugee; and
(2) You have never gotten your green card; and
(3) You have been physically present in the United States for more than one year; and
(4) Your status as a refugee has not been terminated by the Secretary of Homeland Security
or the Attorney General.
What if I have been convicted of crimes?
This is what a 209(c) waiver does – it excuses or waives many criminal convictions. But it does
not excuse all crimes. For example, if the Government has reason to believe that you are a drug
trafficker or a terrorist, you are not eligible for this waiver.1
Even if you do not have a conviction
for drug trafficking or terrorism, the Government may still argue that there is “reason to believe”
you are a drug trafficker or a terrorist, but the Government must have some evidence.
How do I apply?
A refugee in removal proceedings usually applies for a refugee waiver and adjustment of status
in Immigration Court. The Judge or the Government may tell you that you have to apply for a
refugee waiver and adjustment of status with United States Citizenship and Immigration Service
(USCIS) first, before you see a judge. The Board of Immigration Appeals has said this is not
required. See Matter of D-K-, 25 I. & N. Dec. 761 (BIA 2012).
In Immigration Court, you need to fill out the following forms. Politely ask the Immigration
Judge to give you copies of these forms:
(1) Form I-602, Application by Refugee for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility
(2) Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
(3) Form 325A, Biographic Information
(4) Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record2
The legal basis for this can be found at INA § 212(a)(2)(C) (illicit trafficking in controlled substances) and INA §
212(a)(3)(A), (B), (C), and (E) (security and related grounds of inadmissibility).
In order to complete the Form I-693, you will need to ask ICE to take you to a designated civil surgeon’s office. A
designated civil surgeon is a doctor who has been specially designated to fill out this form. You will need to pay the
civil surgeon to complete this form. If you or your family members have copies of your vaccination/immunization
The Balancing Test
The refugee waiver is a discretionary form of relief. This means that the Immigration Judge does
not have to grant you this waiver – it is up to him or her, after considering the evidence. The
Immigration Judge will weigh the negative factors in a refugee’s case against the positive
- Hardship to you and your family - Criminal history
if you are deported - Lack of rehabilitation
- Length of time in the US - Not taking responsibility for your crimes
- Legal family members - Lack of family/community support
- History of harm or violence in your - Unexplained history of unemployment
home country - Failure to pay taxes
- Physical or mental illness
- Work history
- Education history
- Rehabilitation (counseling, drug or alcohol program)
- Community support
- Current conditions in home country
- History of paying taxes
records, you should bring these records with you to the doctor. If ICE refuses to take you, you should politely ask
the Immigration Judge for help.
See below, section on “Building your Case,” to learn how best to document the positive factors in your case and
convince the Immigration Judge that you are deserving of a 209(c) waiver and adjustment of status.
Special Standard for Refugees Convicted of “Violent or Dangerous” Crimes
Refugees seeking 209(c) waivers must show that the positive factors in their
case are greater than the negative factors. In some cases, refugees have to show
even more than that – they must jump over a very high bar to show the
Immigration Judge that their deportation would cause them and their families
“exceptional and extremely unusual hardship.” Refugees have to show this
exceptional hardship if they have been convicted of a “violent or dangerous”
What is a violent or dangerous crime?
The Attorney General’s decision in Matter of Jean, 23 I. & N. Dec. 373, 383 (A.G. 2002)
explains the “violent or dangerous” crime standard. In that case, the refugee was convicted of
shaking a 19 month old baby to death and causing severe injuries to the child including
bruises on the child’s head, chest, and back and internal bleeding. The Attorney General
found the facts of the refugee’s crime “violent or dangerous,” and required the refugee to
show “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” to her and her family if she was
How do I know if I have been convicted of a “violent or dangerous” crime?
First you need to know if you have been convicted of a crime. Some things are convictions
but don’t sound like convictions. For example, a “continued without a finding” or “CWOF”
is still a conviction for immigration purposes. Sometimes, you may not think you have a
conviction because you did not go to jail. Remember, just because you didn’t go to jail or
prison, you still may have a criminal conviction. To be sure, ask for a copy of your criminal
There are several ways to obtain a copy of your criminal history. You can contact your
criminal defense attorney and ask him or her for copies of the record(s) in your case(s). You
can ask a friend or family member go to the court(s) where you had criminal hearings and
ask for your criminal records. These records are public.
In Massachusetts, you can also request your full criminal history by mailing a letter to:
ATTN CORI Unit, Department of Criminal Justice Information Services, 200 Arlington
Street, Suite 2200, Chelsea, MA 02150. You must provide your full name, date of birth,
address, and social security number and include a stamped, self-addressed envelope. You
must also provide a check or money order made payable to the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts in the amount of $25.00. If you cannot afford the fee, you can complete an
“Affidavit of Indigency.”
Finally, to be absolutely sure of your criminal history, you can obtain an FBI Criminal
Background Check. You can ask a correctional officer where you are detained for help.
If you have been convicted of a crime or crimes, your next step is to ask whether that crime
or those crimes are “violent or dangerous.” Your Notice to Appear in Immigration Court will
not tell you whether or not you have been convicted of a “violent or dangerous” crime.
Usually, you find out after you submit your application for a 209(c) waiver, and the
Government argues that you have been convicted of a “violent or dangerous” crime.
The Immigration Judge makes the decision about whether a crime is “violent or dangerous”
and bases that decision on the facts of the case. This means that the Immigration Judge
considers each case individually. For example, some assault convictions may be “violent or
dangerous” crimes if the facts show injury or harm to other people. Other assault convictions
may not be considered “violent or dangerous” crimes if there was no harm or injury.
What do I do if the Government lawyer argues that I have been convicted of a “violent or
You want to show how the facts in your case are less serious than the facts in Matter of Jean.
For example, if your criminal conviction(s) did not involve any physical touching or injury to
any person, then your criminal conviction is less serious than the crime in Matter of Jean and
should not be considered a “violent or dangerous” crime.
Building Your Case
How do I convince the Judge that I deserve a 209(c) waiver and adjustment of status?
Your job is to convince the Judge that the positive parts of your life are greater than the negative
parts. Here are some suggestions on how to emphasize the positive parts of your case. You will
need to get documents or letters of support from other people, including family members,
friends, employers, and/or teachers. Make sure that the people who write letters to support you
use their own words; they should not all write the same letter. Make sure you carefully read any
documents/letters before submitting them. If the document or letter does not support your case,
do not submit it.
Attach an English translation of any documents in a foreign language. The Government may
object to your documents, and tell the Immigration Judge not to look at them. Tell the
Immigration Judge why you think the document is important to your case. To get records from a
school, prison, counseling center, hospital, or other institution, send a signed letter asking for the
Hardship to you and your family if you are deported
o Tell the Judge how you would feel if you were deported. How would it feel to be
separated from your family? What are your memories of your home country, if
you have any? Were you or anyone in your family harmed? Were any family
members killed? If so, describe these things to the Immigration Judge. Do you
have any medical or mental health conditions? If so, tell the judge about them.
Would you be able to get the medication and treatment that you need in your
You can write a letter to the Judge, sometimes called an “affidavit” or
“declaration” telling your story. You must be truthful and you should not
exaggerate. Emphasize the positive facts in your case.
Your family members can also write letters to the judge describing their
positive relationship with you, and any ways in which you help or support
them. For example, if you help with childcare or paying bills, or if they
would be upset if you were deported, they can write that in their letter(s).
Practice Tip: You have a right to ask witnesses to testify in your case. It is usually helpful
to have family members who are very close to you or who depend on you for financial
support, emotional support, rides to and from the doctor’s office, childcare, etc., to come
to court and tell the Judge why it would be hard for them if you were deported.
Length of time away from your home country/in the United States
o Many refugees spend months or years in refugee camps
before coming to the United States. If you lived in a
refugee camp for any period of time, let the Immigration
Judge know. If you have lived in the United States for
several years or more, it is important that you tell the
Immigration Judge that too. You can document your time
in the United States using your testimony, the testimony
of your friends and family members, or other documents
such as school records, medical records or copies of your
Legal Family Members
o You should tell the Judge about any legal family members you have in the United
States. These are family members who are U.S. citizens, lawful permanent
residents, refugees, or asylees or people with valid visas or temporary protected
o If you are married, submit your marriage certificate. If you have children and your
name is on their birth certificate, submit their birth certificates.
o If you do not have any family members left in your home country, tell the
Immigration Judge this too.
History of harm or violence in your home country
o Many refugees and their families have suffered terrible things before coming to
the United States. Some refugees have grown up in the middle of civil war and
other serious violence. Some refugees have seen their family members harmed,
arrested, raped, or killed. Other refugees have suffered these harms themselves. If
you or any of your family members suffered any of these things before coming to
the United States, it is important that you explain this to the Immigration Judge.
You can do so with your own testimony, the testimony of your friends and family,
and “country conditions” reports (see page 12 for more information).
o Sometimes, it is also helpful to have a mental health professional (for example, a
therapist, counselor, psychologist, or doctor) who can evaluate you and tell the
judge about how any trauma has affected you. A mental health professional can
also tell the judge whether you have any mental health conditions such as anxiety,
depression or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which may help explain
your criminal record.
Practice Tip: Physicians for Human Rights may be able to provide a free
evaluator in some cases. You can find more information by calling them at
617-301-4200 or 202-728-3053. Or visit their website at
Physical or mental illness
o If you are suffering from any physical or mental illness (for example, diabetes,
high blood pressure, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, depression, Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or any other illness), it is
important that you tell the Immigration Judge. You should also give proof of your
illness to the Immigration Judge and tell the Immigration Judge whether or not
you could get the medication and treatment you need in your home country.
You can document any physical or mental illness you may have by
obtaining records from your doctor or any clinics or hospitals where you
have been a patient.
Practice Tip: If you have never seen a mental health professional but think you might
benefit from speaking with someone, put in a “sick slip” to see a counselor, psychologist,
social worker or psychiatrist in the jail where you are detained. It may be helpful to talk
to a mental health professional about your feelings and any trauma or harm you have
suffered. They may also be able to help you understand some of the symptoms you may
be having, such as, trouble sleeping, nightmares, anxiety, depression or hearing or seeing
things that are not really there.
o If you have worked in the United States, you should show your work history
through letters from previous employers or supervisors or co-workers, or with pay
stubs or tax returns.
Practice Tip: It’s very helpful to have a job waiting for you if you are released from
custody. This lets the Judge know that you have a “plan” for the future. If you have a job
waiting for you, get a letter from your employer stating that the job will be available to
you if you are released.
o If you have completed your GED or graduated from high school, submit a copy of
your GED certificate or high school diploma. If you won any awards or special
honors in high school, submit evidence of these. If you had a teacher, mentor or
coach who helped you, try to obtain a letter from that person in support
of your case.
o If you attended community college, vocational/technical school,
university or any additional schooling or training, you can also submit
Practice Tip: Only submit school records if they strengthen your case. For
example, if your school records show that you failed every class, were absent
most of the time or received numerous detentions or suspensions, these records
will not be helpful to your case and you should not submit them.
o If you have a criminal history of any kind, you will need to show the Immigration
Judge that you have changed and that you are not going to commit crimes again in
the future. You can do this in a number of ways. If it has been a long time since
you were last arrested or convicted, you should explain to the Judge what positive
steps you have taken to remain out of trouble. You may also obtain letters of
support from friends, family or community members detailing the changes you’ve
made. This is known as “rehabilitation.”
o If you had a drug or alcohol problem, you will need to explain to the judge what
steps you have taken, are taking or are going to take to remain sober, like
inpatient/residential treatment, therapy, or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or
Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings.
o If you participated in any programs either in criminal custody or immigration
custody, for example therapy, job training, AA meetings or anger management
classes, you may also wish to submit certificates of your participation in these
Practice Tip: If you have never taken steps for “rehabilitation” following a criminal
history or drug or alcohol problem, you should start now. Ask what meetings or programs
are available where you are detained. If there are no programs or meetings available, it
may be helpful to ask to see a therapist or counselor so that you can start thinking about
why you made bad decisions in the past and how to avoid making bad decisions in the
Community service and religious involvement
o Include evidence of any community service you have done or
any evidence that you are religious or active in your church,
mosque or congregation.
o For example, if you have volunteered at your church, at a
community center, coaching a sports team, mentoring young
people, helping senior citizens, etc., include evidence of this
service. Some evidence may include, a certificate showing your service, a letter
from a supervisor or other person confirming your history as a volunteer and your
Current conditions in home country
o It is important for the Immigration Judge to know about current conditions in your
home country or the country where you would be deported. For example, if the
country currently discriminates against, harms or tortures people like you, it is
important to tell the Immigration Judge this.
o You may also give the Immigration Judge “country conditions reports” about the
harm that you, or people like you, have faced or will face in your country.
o You may find helpful country conditions information and reports here:
State Department Human Rights Reports,
Human Rights Watch, http://www.hrw.org/
Amnesty International, http://www.amnesty.org/
You may want to ask a friend or a family member to help you find reports like this on the internet
and print them out for the Immigration Judge.
History of paying taxes
o If you have paid taxes in the United States, submit copies of your tax returns to
the Immigration Judge.
o If you do not have copies of your tax returns, you can obtain a full copy of your
tax records by completing a Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return,
for each year for which you are requesting your tax records. If someone else (for
example, a family member) is requesting the records for you, he or she must also
complete Form 2848, Power of Attorney. You can find these forms online at
o Once completed, both of these forms should be faxed to 816-292-6102 or mailed
to: RAIVS Team, Stop 6705 P-6, Kansas City, MO 64999.
o If you have a criminal record, you must be truthful about it. The government will
have your FBI Report and, using your fingerprints, will know all about every
arrest or conviction anywhere in the United States. If you have been convicted of
a crime, it does not help to tell the Immigration Judge that you are innocent. If
you are truly innocent, you need to go back to criminal court and try to re-open
your criminal case and have a new trial.
o The Government will usually have copies of your criminal records, including the
police reports in your criminal cases. Ask for copies of any records they have so
you can review them prior to your hearing.
Practice Tip: Sometimes, the police report states facts that are not true. Calling a police
officer a “liar” is not helpful to your case. If you believe that something in the police
report is inaccurate, you may bring that to the Immigration Judge’s attention in a
respectful manner. You should also explain why you think it is inaccurate.
Letters of Support and Witnesses
What is a declaration or affidavit?
A declaration or affidavit is a sworn statement from someone that you can give the Immigration
Judge as evidence in your case. An affidavit must be signed and sworn before a notary, but a
declaration does not need to be notarized. So a declaration is easier for a person to prepare than
an affidavit. A declaration must end with the words: "I [the person's name] hereby declare under
penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct” and have a date. See sample Letter of
Support in Appendix B.
Who should be a witness?
The best witnesses are close family members, employers, counselors or religious/community
leaders. They should all be here legally. Your witnesses should plan to come to court for your
individual hearing. Any witnesses who can’t come to court can write a letter that covers what
they would say if they were there. The letter should also explain why they are unable to come to
court. In court, your witnesses might be asked about their own criminal records. Your witnesses
should tell the Immigration Judge about the good things in your life, including:
Hardship to you and your family if you are deported
Your family ties to the U.S., particularly spouse (or long term, serious boyfriend or
girlfriend), children or parents with legal status.
Length of time you have lived in the U.S.
Lack of knowledge of language and customs in home country
Your schooling in the United States
Your military service for the U.S.
Your good work history in the U.S. and a job offer
Your payment of income tax in the U.S.
Your property or business ties in the U.S.
Your service to your community or volunteer work in the U.S.
Rehabilitation programs you have completed
Your good character
Make sure your witnesses discuss the good things they know about you. They should describe
their relationship with you and how hard it would be without you. For example, does your family
depend on you to pay the rent or other bills? Do you help a sick or old family member?
Your witnesses should talk about how you have changed since any recent criminal history. If
they think you will not have any more problems with crime again, they should explain why. If
you have a drug or alcohol problem and have received counseling, bring witnesses who know
about it. Both the Immigration Judge and the government lawyer will ask them many hard
questions about who they are, how they know you, and whether they know about your criminal
record. Practice questions with your witnesses. Remind your witnesses to stay calm and be
Preparing for the Full Immigration Court Hearing
What will happen at the hearing?
If you are applying for a refugee waiver and adjustment of status, the Immigration Judge will
give you time to fill out the forms. The Immigration Judge may ask you to submit your
supporting letters and other evidence either with your applications or at a later time. If you need
more time to gather supporting letters and other documents, let the Immigration Judge know.
After you submit your application, the Immigration Judge will give you another hearing date
where you will have up to several hours to explain your case and call witnesses to speak on your
At that full hearing, which may be called an “Individual” hearing or a “Merits” hearing, the
Immigration Judge will speak first. The government lawyer will also be there and will argue that
the Immigration Judge should deny your application and deport you from the United States.
You will go next. The Immigration Judge will question you about your case and your life. Then
the government lawyer will question you. Be sure to tell the truth. You also want to tell the
Immigration Judge that you are sorry for what happened and that you will not get into trouble
again. It is also important to be polite to the Immigration Judge and to try to look your best. See
if your family can drop off nice clothes for you at the jail. You want to look the Immigration
Judge in the eye when you are answering his or her questions. Be sure to speak loudly and
clearly so that the tape recording of the hearing will be clear.
The government lawyer will have a copy of your full criminal record and will usually want the
Immigration Judge to know about it. Usually, you want to tell the Immigration Judge about your
criminal record yourself. That way the Immigration Judge will not be surprised to hear about
other convictions from the government lawyer. You can explain what happened for each
conviction and why these events will not happen again in the future.
It will not help to tell the Immigration Judge that you did not commit any crimes and that your
criminal lawyer told you to plead guilty. It is important to accept responsibility for your record.
Your criminal case is over and the Immigration Judge cannot change it. You should get a copy of
your criminal record so that you are prepared to talk about every arrest in your criminal history.
Even charges that were dismissed are things the Immigration Judge and government lawyer can
ask you about.
Your witnesses will come next. You will have to ask your witnesses questions. They cannot just
get up and speak. The government lawyer and the Immigration Judge will also question them. To
prepare, you should write out all of your questions before the hearing. At the hearing you can
read or look at your written questions so you will not forget. You can ask each witness if he or
she has anything else to tell the Immigration Judge about why you deserve a second chance.
Make sure that your witnesses know the dates that important things happened in your life. For
example, your employer should know the dates of your employment, and your spouse should
know dates of important events in your life together, like your wedding date and your birthday.
The Government lawyer may have witnesses. Usually, the Government lawyer will not have any
witnesses, but if he or she does, you have the right to question them. You have the right to object
to any documents that the Government lawyer tries to give the Immigration Judge if they are
unfair or untrue. Ask to see the document and take time to review it. Ask the Immigration Judge
for your own copy of the document. If you do not understand the document or what it means, tell
this to the Immigration Judge.
You should ask the Immigration Judge if you can make a statement at the end of your testimony
and summarize the positive factors in your case. This is often called a “closing argument”. When
the Immigration Judge has finished asking you questions, be sure to tell the Immigration Judge
anything else you think is important about your case and your life.
The Immigration Judge will decide the case. After you and all the witnesses have spoken, the
Immigration Judge will usually decide the case. The Judge may postpone the decision for
another date so that he or she can think about it.
What questions will the Immigration Judge or Government lawyer ask?
The Immigration Judge may ask you many questions. You must tell the truth and answer the
question asked. It is important to accept responsibility for your mistakes and show that you have
changed. If you do not understand a question, tell the Immigration Judge. If the Immigration
Judge does not ask you these questions, be prepared to tell the Immigration Judge the following
1. What is your full name?
2. How old are you?
3. When did you first come to the U.S.?
4. How old were you when you first came?
5. How many years have you lived in the U.S.?
6. How did you enter the U.S.? (for example, did you come as a refugee?)
7. Have you ever left the U.S. since you first came?
8. If so, what are the dates of all the times you left and returned? Where
did you go each time and what was the purpose of each trip? The judge
may ask for your passport.
9. How is your health?
10. Do you receive medical or mental health treatment?
11. Describe any health problems and treatment.
12. Are you married?
13. When did you get married? Where?
14. Do you live with your spouse? Describe the relationship.
15. Is your spouse a U.S. citizen?
16. How is your spouse's health? Describe any health problems or treatment.
17. Have you had any periods of separation from your spouse?
18. Does your spouse work? If so, where? If not, do you support your spouse?
19. Do you have any children? State their names and ages. Explain who they live with, where
they live and whether they are U.S. citizens or have their green cards.
20. How would your removal hurt your spouse, children, and other family?
21. Where do your children go to school?
22. Describe your relationship with your children.
23. How often do you see your children? Do you write them or talk to them on the phone?
24. Did they visit you in jail or prison?
25. Where are your parents? Are they citizens or residents of the U.S.? Do you care for them in
26. How many brothers and sisters do you have? State how old they are, where they live and
whether they are U.S. citizens or have their green cards.
27. Do you have any relatives in your own country?
28. When were you last there? Do you still speak the language?
29. What jobs have you had in the U.S.? Describe each place you worked in the U.S. and the
dates you worked there. Explain what you did at each job, what you were paid, and whether the
work was full time or part-time.
30. Have you filed income tax returns each year? Name the years and explain why you did not
file in certain years.
31. How many years of education have you completed?
32. Have you gone to school or taken any courses in the U.S.? What courses? Name the school
and dates you studied or graduated.
33. What is your criminal record? State the dates of your arrests, your convictions and the
sentences you received.
34. Describe the circumstances of each of your criminal convictions.
35. Do you have or have you had a problem with drugs or alcohol?
36. Describe any counseling or drug rehabilitation programs you have attended. What are the
names and locations of the programs and the dates you attended?
37. Describe your activities or classes in prison (for example, a GED course).
38. Did you have any disciplinary actions or problems in prison?
39. What do you think now about the criminal offenses you committed? How do you feel now
about the bad decisions that you made in the past?
40. Have you done any community or volunteer work?
41. Have you served in the U.S. military? When? Where? Do you have an honorable discharge?
42. Do you own any property in the U.S.?
43. If deported, what problems would you have in your country? Would you be able to find a
job? Do you have family there? Can you speak the language?
44. If deported, would your family return with you? Why not? If they did return with you, would
they be able to work, go to school, speak the language, receive adequate medical care?
45. Are you afraid to go back to your country? Why?
46. How do you feel about how your criminal history and immigration case has affected your
loved ones in the United States?
47. Why should the judge believe that you are a different person now and that you are
Appealing the Immigration Judge’s Decision
Board of Immigration Appeals
If the Immigration Judge denies your case, you can appeal to the Board of Immigration
Appeals. The Immigration Judge will give you a Notice of Appeal and a Fee Waiver if you
cannot pay the fee. The Board of Immigration Appeals must receive your Notice of Appeal
and $110 fee or Fee Waiver Request within 30 days of the Immigration Judge's decision.
You must makes sure that your Notice of Appeal is received on time or you will lose your right
to appeal. Send your Notice of Appeal and Fee Waiver Request to:
Board of Immigration Appeals
Office of the Clerk
P.O. Box 8530
Falls Church, VA 22041
On the Notice of Appeal, list the reasons why the decision of the Immigration Judge was
wrong. List the mistakes in the law and the mistakes in the facts that the Immigration Judge
made. Also state that you will file a brief in support of your appeal. Send a copy of the Notice of
Appeal and Fee Waiver to the Government Lawyer.
If you appeal your case, the Immigration Service cannot remove you from the
U.S. while your appeal is continuing.
Appeals are complicated, and require written explanations. Having a lawyer is
helpful. After filing your Notice of Appeal, you will receive a written record of the
hearing and will have time to write out reasons why the Immigration Judge's decision
was incorrect and why you should not be deported.
Federal Court Appeal
If you lose your appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals, you may be able to appeal
to the First Circuit Court of Appeals but the rules are very complicated. It is a good idea to hire a
lawyer for this appeal. File a Petition for Review with the First Circuit within 30 days of the
Board of Immigration Appeals decision. You must ask for a Stay to stop your deportation during
the appeal. Send the original Petition (and 3 copies), the Board of Immigration Appeals decision,
a stay request and filing fee of $250 (or Fee Waiver Request) to: First Circuit Court of Appeals,
One Court House Way, Suite 2500, Boston, MA 02210. Call: 617-748-9057.
Congratulations! You Won Your Case and You Have Been Released.
The transition to life “on the street” can be difficult for some people. It can be especially
difficult if you are struggling to try to take a different path and get the help that you need to stay
out of trouble in the future. Below are some resources that may be helpful to you if you are
returning to Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut or Maine after your release. Good luck!
Rosie’s Place, shelter for poor and homeless women
889 Harrison Avenue Boston, MA 02118, Tel: 617-442-9322
Bridge Over Troubled Waters, shelter for young people ages 14-24
47 West Street, Boston, MA 02111, Tel: 617-423-9575
Pine Street Inn, shelter for homeless men and women
444 Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA, Tel: 617-892-9100
X-Cel, open enrollment GED Programs
7 Glenvale Terrace, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; Tel: 617-522-2590
Jackson Mann Community Center
500 Cambridge St, Allston, Tel: 617-635-5153
Crittendon Women’s Union
One Washington Mall Boston, MA 02108, Tel: 617-259-2900
Boston Medical Center Behavioral Health Outpatient Services
Dowling Building, 771 Albany Street, 9th
Floor North, Boston, MA 02118,
Upham’s Corner Health Center
500 Columbia Road, Dorchester, MA 02125, Tel: 617-287-8000
Whittier Street Health Center
1290 Tremont Street, Roxbury, MA 02120, Tel: 617-427-1000
Hope House Addiction Services
8 Farnham Street Boston, MA 02119, Tel: 617-971-9360
Bay Cove Human Services
66 Canal Street, Boston, MA 02114, Tel: 617-371-3000
Arbour Structured Outpatient Addictions Programs (SOAP) and Suboxone Treatment
Comprehensive Re-Entry Services
SPAN, Inc., provides intensive support services for ex-offenders. Services are free and
include reintegration counseling, substance abuse counseling, HIV case management,
employment services, housing services, and social support.
105 Chauncy Street, Boston, MA 02111, Tel: 617-423-0750
Project Place, assists homeless and low-income individuals by providing the skills,
education and resources to obtain stable employment and housing.
1145 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02118, Tel: 617-542-740
Crossroads Rhode Island
160 Broad Street, Providence, RI 02903, Tel: 401-521-2255
New Hope for Families
4 Branch Street # 1, Pawtucket, RI 02860, Tel: 401-728-8490
Capital City Community Centers
110 Ruggles Street, Providence, RI 02908, Tel: 401-455-3880
Blackstone Valley Community Action Program
32 Goff Avenue, Pawtucket, RI 02860, Tel: 401-723-4520
The Genesis Center
620 Potters Avenue, Providence, RI 02907, Tel: 401-781-6110
Dorcas Place Adult and Family Learning
220 Elmwood Avenue, Providence, RI 02907, Tel: 401-273-8866
The Providence Center, Inc.
859 Broad Street, Providence, RI 02907, Tel: 401-383-9977
Family Services RI
55 Hope Street, Providence, RI 02906, Tel: 401-277-3100
NRI Community Services, Inc.
181 Cumberland Street, Woonsocket, RI 02895, Tel: 401-235-7000
NRI Community Services, Inc.
181 Cumberland Street, Woonsocket, RI 02895, Tel: 401-235-7000
My Sister’s Place (women and children)
237 Hamilton Street, Suite 203, Hartford, CT 06106, Tel: 860-895-6629
392 Prospect Street, Bridgeport, CT 06604, Tel: 203-576-9041
Hartford Adult Education
110 Washington Street, Hartford, CT 06106, Tel: 860-695-5840
New Haven Adult Education
580 Ella T. Grasso Blvd, New Haven, Connecticut 06519, Tel: 203 492-0213
Multiple locations including: 91 Northwest Drive, Plainville, CT 06062, Tel: 888-793-
3500; 645 Farmington Avenue, Hartford, CT 06105, Tel: 860.523.9788; and 75 North
Mountain Road, New Britain, CT 06053, Tel: 860.224.6300
Catholic Charities, Behavioral Health Clinic
331 Main Street, Norwich CT 06360, Tel: 860-889-8346
Lebanon Pines, Treatment for Men
37 Camp Mooween Road, Lebanon, CT, Tel: 860-889-1717
Altruism House, Treatment for Women
1000 Bank Street, New London, CT, Tel: 860-447-8021
Preble Street Shelter
65 Elm Street, Portland, ME 04101, Tel: 207-774-3169
Youth Alternatives Ingraham
50 Monument Square, Portland, ME 04101, Tel: 207-523-5049
Cumberland County YMCA
70 Forest Avenue, Portland, ME 04101, Tel: 207-874-1111
Portland Adult Education, GED and Adult Education Classes
57 Douglass Street, Portland, ME 04102, Tel: 207-874-8155
Community Counseling Center, Refugee and Immigrant Counseling and Case
165 Lancaster Street, Portland, ME 04101, Tel: 207-874-1030
New England Family Institute
125 Presumpcot St., Portland, ME 04103, Tel: 207-871-1000
Youth Alternatives Ingraham
50 Monument Square, Portland, ME 04101, Tel: 207-523-5049
525 Main Street # E, South Portland, ME 04106;
Tel: Outpatient Clinic, 207-874-1045; Residential Treatment, 207-767-0991 ext 3
Court Preparation Checklist A
Sample Letter of Support B
Sample Certificate of Translation C
Sample Certificate of Service D
Be Prepared with this Immigration Court Hearing Checklist:
Check off the boxes as you complete each task.
I have asked for the forms I need for my application.
I have received these forms from the Immigration Judge.
When is my application due? [Write the date here as a reminder!] __________
I have filled out my forms and made sure that all of my papers and documents have
(For example, make sure that you write the same date of entry on each form).
I have contacted a family member or friend to help me collect documents and letters in
support of my application.
One of us has contacted people for letters and documents that I need for my case.
I have told my family or friends what type of information they should include in their
letters to the Immigration Judge.
All of my letters are in English and, if translated, I have certificates of translation (see
Appendix C in this manual) attached to them.
I have the three copies of my application and supporting documents.
(The original is for the Immigration Judge, one copy is for the Government,
and one copy is for me to keep.)
I submitted my forms and documents to the judge, either in court or by mail, according to
the Immigration Judge’s instructions.
I have asked family or friends to speak at my hearing. If they cannot come to my hearing,
I have asked them to write a letter instead.
I included certificates of service (see Appendix D in this manual) with any papers that I
submitted by mail to the Immigration Judge and the Government before my individual
hearing, and I mailed them in separate envelopes.
(Addressed to: “The Immigration Judge” and “DHS Litigation”)
I have carefully thought about and made notes of what I am going to say to the
I have practiced my testimony with a friend.
I have prepared the people who are coming to my hearing.
I have reminded the people who are coming to my hearing to
dress nicely and to speak honestly and from the heart.
Finally, I will remember that when I am in Immigration Court I am going to:
Look at the Judge.
Be polite, respectful and honest.
Listen carefully to the judge.
Try to explain myself clearly.
Express myself from the heart and with real emotion.
SAMPLE LETTER OF SUPPORT
Use this letter as a sample to write your own personal letter of support.
Do not copy the sample, just use it as a reference, that way all the letters of support from different people will not be
November 10, 2012
To whom it may concern:
My name is Rose Joseph and I am a U.S. Citizen. I live at 123 S. Main Street, Providence, RI 12345,
telephone: (617) 123-4567. I am 35 years old and am the sister of Nathaniel Joseph (A# 34-345-345),
who is currently detained at the Plymouth County HOC in Plymouth, MA. I am a social studies teacher at
Providence High School. I write this letter in support of my brother. If he is allowed to stay in the United
States, he will live with me and my family at 123 S. Main Street, Providence, RI 12345.
I have known Nathaniel all my life, as he is my younger brother. Nathaniel and I had a very difficult
childhood during the war in Liberia. When Nathaniel was seven and I was ten, our father was killed by
the rebels and our mother was unable to care for us because of her grief. We witnessed a great deal of
violence in Monrovia during the war and saw things that no child should have to see. When it was too
dangerous in Monrovia, Nathaniel and I were sent to live with distant relatives in a refugee camp in
Ghana. Our relatives resented us and often beat Nathaniel. He was afraid of them and also afraid that he
would be killed like our father was. He cried often and had terrible nightmares. In the last year, Nathaniel
has finally gotten help for his PTSD and depression and he has been seeing a counselor for the last three
months. I think he has finally realized that it’s okay to ask for help.
Despite his difficulties, Nathaniel has always been a great support to me and my family. Last year when
my husband was out of work, he helped us with our gas and telephone bills, and even helped us buy
Christmas presents for our kids.
Nathaniel is very important to my children, who see him as a father figure. He loves to take them to the
park and to Chuck E. Cheese. He often helps me out when I have to work late and picks them up from
school. It has been very hard having him away from us. He also has two children with his ex-wife, all of
whom are U.S. citizens. Last year he caught up with his child support payments and he has been on time
ever since. Until he was detained, he had visits with his children every other weekend and his children
always looked forward to seeing him. They have really missed him since he’s been in detention. Since
he’s been detained, his ex-wife has had to apply for welfare to feed their children.
I am aware that Nathaniel was convicted of assault and battery, possession of marijuana and shoplifting.
Nathaniel is not a violent person at all. I have never seen him raise his hand to anyone. He is one of the
kindest, calmest people I know and he is a loving and caring father, uncle and brother. Nathaniel has
made bad decisions as a young adult, but in the last year, he has made big changes in his life.
If Nathaniel is given a second chance to stay in the United States, he has told me that he plans to get his
commercial truck driving license. He wants to work hard to support his family and provide for his
children. I know that this has been a wakeup call for Nathaniel and that if given a second chance, he will
not break the law again. If he is allowed to stay, he will have his entire family’s support. We all love him
very much and want him to come home as soon as possible.
Thank you very much for your consideration.
I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed on [insert today’s date].
CERTIFICATE OF TRANSLATION
I, , certify that I am fluent in the English and
languages, that I am competent to translate between the and the
English languages, and that I have accurately and completely translated the attached document
from into English to the best of my ability.
SAMPLE CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
On [insert date] I, [insert your name], served by mail/hand a copy of [name of document] on
ICE/District Counsel at [insert address of local Department of Homeland Security government