With Convention Against Torture protection, can I bring family to the U.S. or visit them abroad?

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Question:

I was granted withholding of removal under the Convention Against Torture. I’m from El Salvador. (I couldn’t get asylum, because I have been in prison in the U.S. for a crime.) I know this allows me to stay in the U.S. for now, and to get a work permit. But I haven’t seen my family in a long time. Can my CAT grant help bring them here? Or can I go visit them and return to the United States afterward?

Answer:

The answer to both your questions is “No.” Convention Against Torture protection means that, even though the Immigration Judge did not find you eligible for any other form of immigration status or relief, the judge also found that international law blocks the U.S. from sending you back to a country where you would more likely than not be tortured.

All of that is a long way of saying that you don’t really have any “status” in the U.S. – you just can’t be deported or removed to your home country, for now.

With no real status, you also have no right to petition or request that family members be allowed to join you in the United States. Nor can you request any documentation with which to return to the United States after foreign travel. (Besides, if you returned to your home country, you’d practically be admitting that you aren’t likely to be tortured there – and CAT protection lasts only as long as you’re in danger.)

Your opportunities to gain status in the U.S. are limited (especially if you were found inadmissible based on a crime). If, however, some opportunity to obtain status comes along -- for example, you marry a U.S. citizen -- definitely speak to an immigration attorney for a full analysis of the possibilities to reopen your case and present this new application.

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