Many individuals who enter the United States to improve their lives unfortunately find themselves in abusive relationships. Often times, victims of abuse may be living without status or may have a visa that is dependent on the status of their abuser and may be afraid to seek help. However, help is available to victims of domestic violence who are in the country unlawfully as well as lawfully.
Our office represents individuals who are looking to change their immigration status through the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) provisions for abused immigrants. We handle Self-Petitions covered under VAWA, U-Visas and Battered Spouse Waivers. Our firm seeks to address our clients safety, support, and immigration status throughout the legal process.
Domestic violence laws are complicated and the procedures can be confusing. It is critical to hire a lawyer with the ability and expertise to aid those seeking status as a victim of abuse.
There are two visas available to victims of domestic violence: the VAWA visa and the U Visa. The following is an explanation of the requirements for each application:
The VAWA Visa
The VAWA application provides protection for victims of abuse who are not citizens of the United States. The following categories of people qualify for the self-petition through VAWA:
- Abused spouses of citizens and green card holders [or lawful permanents residents (LPRs)].
- Spouses of U.S. citizens and LPRs who have abused children.
- Abused parents of children who are US citizens.
- Abused children of citizens or LPRs.
Each victims petition must be supported by substantial evidence of the abuse and its effect on the victim.
The U Visa
The U Visa is an application that provides legal status to victims of domestic violence who are actively helping law enforcement in investigating crimes of abuse. In order to meet the basic qualifications the victim must
- Be a victim of domestic violence;
- Report the crime to their local police department or law enforcement agency;
- Possess a certification from either the prosecutorial body or agency responsible for the investigation of the crime;
- Demonstrate that as a result of the crime he or she has suffered significant mental and physical harm; and
- Show that he or she is admissible into the US.
Each one of these requirements requires a considerable amount of evidence gathering.
If you are in removal proceedings before an Immigration Judge, both the U-Visa and VAWA Visa petitions are available to as a defense to deportation.