As a national expert, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) provides technical assistance, trainings and practice manuals on critical immigration options for vulnerable immigrants including immigrant victims of domestic violence, human trafficking and other crimes.
U Visa: Immigration Relief for Survivors of Domestic Violence and Other Crimes
Immigrant victims of certain crimes who have been helpful in a criminal investigation or prosecution may qualify for a visa that can lead to a green card. The ILRC’s practice manual entitled The U Visa: Obtaining Status for Immigrant Victims of Crime is a comprehensive explanation of the law and application process that also includes sample materials and practice tips.
VAWA: Immigration Relief for Survivors of Domestic Violence and Other Crimes
VAWA allows an abused spouse or child of a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident or an abused parent of a U.S. Citizen to self-petition for lawful status in the United States, receive employment authorization, and access public benefits. VAWA provides domestic violence survivors with the means that are essential to escaping violence and establishing safe, independent lives. ILRC has co-authored The VAWA Manual, a step-by-step guide to assist advocates working on VAWA cases.
T Visa: Immigration Relief for Survivors of Sex or Labor Trafficking
Human trafficking survivors may be eligible for lawful status, employment authorization, and a potential path to permanent residency, but they are a unique population with diverse and resource-intensive needs. The ILRC publishes a guide, Representing Survivors of Human Trafficking, on special considerations when working with human trafficking victims.
Use of the Term “Victim” vs. “Survivor”
Please note that the ILRC often uses the terms “victim” and “survivor” interchangeably. Because a “victim” is typically defined by harm done to them, many advocates choose to instead use the word “survivor” to refer to clients. “Survivors” are defined by their lives after the harm, allowing them to reclaim control of their lives and their recovery. While our goal as advocates is to help community members survive and thrive despite harms they have suffered, we sometimes use the term “victim” when referring to a particular aspect of the criminal legal system, penal code, or immigration law; when describing someone recently affected by crime; when talking about the actions of a perpetrator; or when discussing the harm inflicted on those who did not survive. When working with impacted community members, we recommend asking people which term they prefer, as some may identify with the term victim, while others may prefer the term survivor.
This Advisory is written by immigration attorneys and medical doctors specializing in SUD, to examine the issue from both perspectives. Part I of the advisory discusses the several immigration law penalties based on substance use (even when use has not risen to a disorder) and suggests legal defense strategies. Part II of the advisory reviews current medical information about the disorders and discusses how this information can address questions that arise in immigration proceedings.
This webinar will cover the unique nature of U nonimmigrant status, including the U petition, U waiver, the bona fide determination process, the U waitlist, and U adjustment of status. The presenters will discuss in detail the eligibility criteria for U nonimmigrant status, covering trends and practice tips.
Alison Kamhi - Legal Program Director, ILRC
Alison Kamhi is the Legal Program Director based in San Francisco. Alison is a dedicated immigrant advocate who brings significant experience in immigration law to the ILRC. Alison leads the ILRC's Immigrant Survivors Team and conducts frequent in-person and webinar trainings on naturalization and citizenship, family-based immigration, U visas, and FOIA requests. She also provides technical assistance through the ILRC’s Attorney of the Day program on a wide range of immigration issues, including immigration options for youth, consequences of criminal convictions for immigration purposes, removal defense strategy, and eligibility for immigration relief, including family-based immigration, U visas, VAWA, DACA, cancellation of removal, asylum, and naturalization.
She has co-authored a number of publications, including The U Visa: Obtaining Status for Immigrant Victims of Crimes (ILRC); FOIA Requests and Other Background Checks (ILRC); Naturalization and U.S. Citizenship (ILRC); Hardship in Immigration Law (ILRC); Parole in Immigration Law (ILRC); Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and Other Immigration Options for Children and Youth (ILRC); A Guide for Immigrant Advocates (ILRC); and Most In Need But Least Served: Legal and Practical Barriers to Special Immigrant Juvenile Status for Federally Detained Minors, 50 Fam. Ct. Rev. 4 (2012).
Alison facilitates the eight member Collaborative Resources for Immigrant Services on the Peninsula (CRISP) collaborative in San Mateo County to provide immigration services to low-income immigrants in Silicon Valley.
Prior to the ILRC, Alison worked as a Clinical Teaching Fellow at the Stanford Law School Immigrants' Rights Clinic, where she supervised removal defense cases and immigrants' rights advocacy projects. Before Stanford, she represented abandoned and abused immigrant youth as a Skadden Fellow at Bay Area Legal Aid and at Catholic Charities Community Services in New York. While in law school, Alison worked at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project, and Greater Boston Legal Services Immigration Unit. After law school, she clerked for the Honorable Julia Gibbons in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
Alison received her J.D. from Harvard Law School and her B.A. from Stanford University. Alison is admitted to the bar in California and New York. She speaks German and Spanish.
Jennefer Canales-Pelaez - Texas Policy Attorney & Strategist, ILRC
Jennefer joined the ILRC in 2022. Jennefer has advocated for immigrant rights from the age of 11 when she advocated for her father’s immigration status to the President at the time, George W. Bush. Although her father was ultimately deported, Jennefer dedicated her life and career to ensuring that no one else experiences the trauma she felt at the age of 11.
She graduated from Occidental College with a B.A. in Sociology in 2012 and earned her Juris Doctor from Southwestern Law School in 2016. Jennefer is a member of the State Bar of California and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Jennefer has been involved with ICE out of LA, Southwestern Immigration Law Clinic, National Immigration Law Center (NILC), Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project, Immigrant Defenders Law Center (IMMDEF), Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA) and worked with the Los Angeles Immigration Court. Jennefer is a former board member and co-president of the National Lawyers Guild-LA Chapter, former Apen Ideas Scholar and KIPP Accelerator. After moving back to her hometown, Houston, Texas in 2019, she represented survivors of gender-based violence at Tahirih Justice Center prior to joining the ILRC. Jennefer was nominated as one of Houston’s Unsung Heros in 2020 and is a current KIPP Texas board member.
Brooke Parr - Directing Attorney, ICWC San Diego
Brooke joined ICWC in 2011, helping to introduce ICWC services to the San Diego community. She represents clients in VAWA, U Visa, Adjustment of Status, guardianship, SIJS, and DACA cases. Brooke often provides trainings to local law enforcement agencies and community-based organizations on U Visa and VAWA. Prior to ICWC, Brooke worked at Casa Cornelia Law Center (CCLC) in San Diego, devoting her time to providing free legal services to indigent immigrants. During her time with CCLC, Brooke held various positions, including Pro Bono Program Director and Domestic Violence Program Director. Brooke received her J.D. degree from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law and graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. in Psychology and a B.A. in Spanish. During her time at USC, Brooke worked as an intern at Public Counsel Law Center in Los Angeles and participated in USC’s Children’s Rights Clinic. She gained experience assisting families who were adopting children who had been abused, abandoned, or neglected and assisted attorneys with guardianship and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) cases. She also served as Notes Editor for her honors journal, Southern California Review of Law and Social Justice (RLSJ) and authored a publication for RLSJ, regarding the benefits received by families adopting children from the foster care system who have special needs. Brooke is admitted to the California bar and is fluent in Spanish.