Understanding U-Visa, T-Visa, and VAWA
Do you need help understanding the U-visa, T-visa, and VAWA in Miami? Contact our experienced immigration lawyers at Murray & Silva, P.A. today.
Visas for Immigrant Victims
U.S. immigration law provides three possible visas for victims of different crimes. That way, they can stay in the United States. These visas include:
- U-visa for serious crimes victims
- T-visa for human trafficking victims
- Violence Against Women Act or VAWA self-petitions for abused spouses or certain parents and children of U.S. citizens and permanent residents.
Determining which of these immigration categories is the best match for any victim can be difficult. A skilled immigration attorney can help decide whether it is best to apply for a U-visa or T-visa or file the VAWA self-petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
In our current political climate, where immigration benefits and the process of obtaining a green card seem to grow more challenging each day, it is important to consult with an immigration attorney to explore the often-overlooked paths to permanent residence for victims of certain offenses.
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.
To qualify for the U-visa, the crime must have happened within U.S. territory. In addition, the victim has to meet several criteria, such as suffering physical or mental injury from the crime and being a victim of certain crimes listed by the U.S. government. These crimes can include abduction, extortion, prostitution, manslaughter, and fraud in foreign labor contracting.
U-visas can protect these victims by giving them legal status in the United States. In exchange, the U-visa applicants have to give valuable information to law enforcement agencies in legal proceedings regarding the crime.
T-Visa – Immigration Relief for Survivors of Sex or Labor Trafficking
Human trafficking survivors may be eligible for lawful status, and employment authorization. But they are a unique population with diverse and resource-intensive needs.
The T-visa is specifically designed for human trafficking victims and is subject to a cap from the U.S. government.
A T-visa holder can have the option to become a legal permanent resident and not just file for an extension of status. They can legally remain in the United States if they are approved and get a green card.
But, they have to meet several requirements in order to be eligible. For example, they have to assist law enforcement with investigating the human trafficking crime they were a victim of. They also have to pass a good character assessment and be in the U.S. for at least 3 years on a T-visa.
Green Card as a Battered Spouse or Child
VAWA (The Violence Against Women Act) 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.
In cases of abuse or extreme mental cruelty, the U.S. citizen/LPR spouse or parent may refuse to assist his or her spouse or child in obtaining a green card. In such cases, the spouse or child who has been abused may independently file a petition with USCIS, known as an I-360 self-petition. Battered and abused spouses may also include their children and abused children may also include their non-abusive parent on the petition.
Individuals may file a self-petition up to two (2) years after divorce from the U.S. citizen or LPR spouse. If the I-360 petition is approved, individuals may immediately qualify for a green card if they are an immediate relative or if a visa number is currently available. As an approved self-petitioner, they will qualify to file for a green card here in the U.S. even if they entered the U.S. without permission.
How Can We Help?
For every visa, an application process is still required. Understanding how VAWA, T-visa, or U-visa petitions work and individuals’ eligibility can be complicated. For the best possible outcome, working with an experienced immigration lawyer is recommended.
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