Immigration Screening for our Scholars
By Tania Wilcox February 16, 2017
Given this wildly uncertain time for immigrants with DACA status, we want to encourage our Scholars to seek an immigration legal screening. As an incentive, we will pay for their United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) application fees up to $2,500 per Scholar for any potential legal remedy that they discover might be available to them. Below is an email we will send to them next week.
Before sending, we want to give you the opportunity to confirm that you either have free legal immigration screening services available on campus or in your community so you are prepared to answer questions you might get from our Scholars. If you are unaware of whether there are any available services, we encourage you to visit www.immigrationlawhelp.org or www.ailalawyer.com.
If you do not have free legal immigration screening services on campus or in your community, please let me know by next Tuesday, February 21st. We can provide our Scholars with access to an online DREAMer Intake Service. We want to be judicious in extending this because (1) in-person screening is the preferred approach and likely to yield the most clarity for a Scholar, and (2) we do not want to overwhelm the Intake Service (which has the back-end support of a limited number of people).
Let us know whether you have any questions.
Director of College Partnerships
EMAIL THAT WILL BE SENT TO SCHOLARS NEXT WEEK:
We appreciate that this is a wildly uncertain time for immigrants with DACA status. We want you to know that we stand with you.
Given the uncertainty of DACA’s future, we want to encourage you to get a legal immigration screening if you have not done so recently. This will help you know whether there are other immigration remedies or benefits available to you.
To encourage and support you, TheDream.US will pay for your United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) application fees up to $2,500 per Scholar for any immigration legal remedy that you discover may be available to you as a result of your screening. For more information – read below!
What Is It?
An immigration legal screening is an evaluation by an immigration attorney that reviews and evaluates your immigration case. The attorney conducts a biographical review, will research the law, and then provide an analysis about your options.
Why Get One?
It is important to know your options. What is the law today? What are your options today? What could be your options in the future? This will allow you to take steps today that may better position you for a future legal status. It might also reveal an option that is available to you that you do not know about (e.g., a green card or an employment visa).
Who does Immigration Screenings and are they free?
Any trusted immigration attorney or immigrant services organization can provide an immigration screening. Many of our Partner Colleges either offer free legal immigration screenings on campus and for those that do not, there are community organizations that will provide a free screening. Reach out to your Scholar Advisor for more information.
What are some examples of legal remedies?
Some people may qualify for:
- U-Visas, T-Visas, VAWA, Family-Based Petitions
If I discover there is a potential remedy available, how much will it cost to pursue the remedy?
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) application fees and your legal fees will vary depending on the type of remedy that may be available to you. In many cases, you may be eligible for fee waivers. You can ask about this as a part of your screening.
Legal fees are usually paid to a private immigration attorney (such as one found at www.AILAlawyer.com) or to a nonprofit agency (such as one found at www.ImmigrationLawHelp.org) for legal advice and other professional services. We encourage you to contact multiple attorneys and/or agencies if you think you may be eligible for a legal remedy but want to compare wait time or pricing.
If I get permanent residence status, will I lose my scholarship from TheDream.US?
If you receive a permanent resident status, we will allow you to continue to receive your Scholarship for the academic year in which you receive the new status. After that point, you will be eligible to apply for a federal Pell Grant, federal work study, and federal loans (and potentially state or institutional aid or other scholarship programs that are only open to permanent residents or U.S. citizens).
Good news – We will reimburse for your USCIS application fees!
If you do have a legal screening and discover that you have a potential remedy available to you, TheDream.US will pay for the USCIS application fees for up to $2,500 per Scholar. Our apologies, but we will not be able to pay for you for legal fees.
How do I get my USCIS application fees paid by TheDream.US via ISTS?
Follow these steps to get a check from ISTS to the appropriate US Agency for your application fees:
- Have your lawyer complete and sign a Verification of USCIS Application Fees Form (which we will provide) identifying the potential legal remedy and the required USCIS applications fees;
- Complete an online application form (we will provide a link) and upload the USCIS Application Fees Verification Form signed by your lawyer before September 1, 2017;
Note: The process of finding legal counsel and filing the paperwork takes a lot of time and you should not put off starting this process until the last minute.
3. ISTS will send your lawyer a check written to the order of the appropriate U.S. agency for the amount of the required application fees.
A few rules!
1. We will not pay fees for USCIS applications that are currently pending or filed after September 1, 2017;
2. We will not pay for DACA or TPS fees (or fees for a DACA or TPS-like remedy should DACA be eliminated and then replaced via legislation with a similar remedy);
3. We will not pay for USCIS application fees for anyone other than a Scholar who is currently enrolled in a Partner College.
In the near future we will send you a link to the online application for a fee award and link to the Verification of USCIS Application Fees Form.
If you have any questions, please direct them to Gaby Pacheco at [email protected].
We stand with you!
 If you seek legal advice based on your screening, please consult a reliable immigration attorney or BIA accredited representative to obtain a personalized analysis of your situation. Be cautious of unlicensed practitioners known as “immigration consultants” or “notarios” who often prepare legal forms and may falsely claim to be immigration attorneys.
 IRS Policy on Taxability of Scholarships: We encourage you to consult with your college’s financial aid office or with your personal or family advisor to determine whether any portion of your award, including reimbursement for filing fees, is taxable income that needs to be reported to the Internal Revenue Service.