Kentucky State Immigration Laws
Discover the basics of Kentucky state immigration laws with this FindLaw article. The following information aims to be broad and easy to understand, detailing the basic rights of immigrants in Kentucky. The article covers the following topics:
- Law enforcement and immigration in Kentucky
- Kentucky employment check and E-Verify requirements
- Driver's license/ID requirements
- Public benefit restrictions
- Educational benefits
- Housing ordinance and immigration
- Related resources
- Hire an immigration lawyer
The intricacies of immigration laws can be daunting. Despite this, immigrants must know their rights, especially those at risk of deportation or removal.
Various federal agencies work together in the United States to enforce immigration laws. The main government agencies integral to this process include:
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
Although the federal government administers immigration laws, state authorities also play a role. This collaboration happens in the Criminal Apprehension Program (CAP) implemented by ICE.
CAP's mission is to support federal agencies, particularly in identifying, arresting, and deporting immigrants living here illegally who threaten public safety. These people mainly include those who have been in prison or at large.
In the past, a similar government initiative was known as the "Secure Communities." The program was in operation from 2008 until January 2021. Like CAP, it aimed to strengthen cooperation between the federal government and state authorities in enhancing public safety. The DHS and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had a data-sharing mechanism. The data-sharing vehicle showed the immigration statuses of imprisoned immigrants without the need to ask for more documents at the state level. President Joe Biden revoked Secure Communities in 2021.
But, other programs are still in place to pursue similar objectives of ensuring the safety of U.S. communities. They also work to strengthen immigration law enforcement collaboration between the states and federal authorities.
The federal government created the E-Verify system to check the employment eligibility of people in the U.S. efficiently.
E-Verify is an electronic database that allows employers to check the employment eligibility status of their newly hired employees. Various states mandate the use of E-Verify. But as of July 2023, Kentucky hasn't passed legislation mandating employers to use the system. Kentucky employers may voluntarily check their employees' statuses for lawful employment.
Due to the ever-changing laws, staying updated about these changes is best. For more information on your eligibility for employment as an immigrant, you can contact an immigration attorney near you.
Federal law limits immigrants living here illegally access to most public benefits and social services. But they may access certain essential healthcare programs and emergency services to protect life and safety. Below are the public benefits that undocumented immigrants in Kentucky can use:
- Child Care Development Fund
- Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children
- Emergency Medicaid
- Emergency shelter
- Disaster relief
The public benefits that immigrants can enjoy may vary depending on their status. More detailed information is available on this chart compiled by American University.
Kentucky enacted Residency Regulatory 13 KAR 2:045 in July 2015. This law allowed people living in the U.S. illegally in Kentucky access to in-state tuition. This educational benefit also extends to recipients of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).
Recipients of this benefit must have graduated from a Kentucky high school.
Kentucky adopted and broadened the Fair Housing Act of 1968. This act gives equal opportunity to anyone who wants to rent, sell, buy, finance, or insure housing. It also makes it illegal to discriminate in housing based on the following:
- National origin
- Familial Status
Various nonprofit organizations help immigrants and noncitizens in Kentucky. Some of these providers are as follows:
- Neighbors Immigration Clinic (Lexington) — It gives legal services to low-income migrants for little to no cost. Included among the services it offers are visa processing, legal help to victims of domestic violence, and more.
- Kentucky Refugee Ministries — KRM is a resettlement agency for Kentucky asylees, parolees, and refugees. It also helps immigrants process their legal statuses. This includes asylum applications, adjustments of status, consular processing, and more.
- Catholic Charities of Louisville — The Archdiocese of Louisville operates in 24 counties in Kentucky. It offers various immigration-related, non-legal, and legal services to Kentucky immigrants.
- FindLaw Immigration Law Resouces
FindLaw offers free legal resources related to U.S. immigration laws. Here, you will learn about the basics of immigration law. We also cover more detailed topics, such as naturalization, green card application, etc.
Note that this list is not exclusive. Other organizations and advocacy groups in Kentucky offer referrals to other service providers.
The complexities of immigration law are challenging to understand. Some rules and regulations apply differently in each state. For instance, New York is a "Sanctuary State." That means it provides less stringent rules to migrants compared with other states. Laws related to immigration often undergo amendments.
Because of these variations in law, it's crucial to seek legal advice from an immigration attorney. This is especially true for nonimmigrants seeking lawful immigration status in the U.S.
Immigration lawyers offer the following immigration services:
- Naturalization or U.S. citizenship
- U.S. visa processing
- Application for a lawful permanent resident or green card
- Legal representation in immigration court
- Other matters related to immigration law
To learn more about your rights and responsibilities under Kentucky immigration law, contact an immigration attorney near you. FindLaw has a directory of immigration lawyers available in every state.
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Contact a qualified immigration attorney to help you get the best results possible.