Victims of Domestic Violence and Other Crimes
Under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), battered non-citizens who are married to or recently divorced from U.S. Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents can self-petition (without the help or knowledge of their abusive spouse) to obtain Lawful Permanent Resident status or to remove the conditions on their initial Permanent Resident cards. Parents and children of abusive U.S. Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents may also be eligible to apply.
The U visa was established to encourage victims to report crime and assist with law enforcement investigations and prosecution. Victims of certain crimes, such as torture, trafficking, rape, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, prostitution, domestic violence, involuntary servitude, slave trade, kidnapping, unlawful criminal restraint, abduction, false imprisonment, felonious assault, manslaughter, murder, blackmail, extortion, obstruction of justice, perjury, witness tampering may be eligible to apply for this non-immigrant status. They may also be able to petition for qualifying family members.
Generally, to be eligible, an individual must be the victim of a qualifying crime, be able to prove substantial mental or physical abuse as a result, and demonstrate helpfulness in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity. In some cases, parents of child victims may be eligible for status. If the applicant is in the country unlawfully or has negative immigration history or a criminal record, the applicant will need to file a waiver along with the application.
If U Nonimmigrant Status is granted, the Beneficiary will be able to live and work in the United States for four (4) years, and will be eligible to apply for Lawful Permanent Resident status (a “green card”) after three (3) years.
The T visa is available for victims of severe forms of human trafficking, sex trade or forced labor, on the condition that they help law enforcement officials investigate and prosecute crimes related to human trafficking.
Those who are in the United States due to a severe form of human trafficking, have complied with reasonable requests for cooperation by investigators or prosecutors (or are under 18 years old), and would suffer extreme hardship if forced to return to their home countries may be eligible for this nonimmigrant status. If an applicant has a criminal record or negative immigration history, the applicant may need to file a waiver along with the application.
If T Nonimmigrant Status is granted, the Beneficiary will be able to live and work in the U.S. for four (4) years, and will be eligible to apply for Permanent Resident Status after three (3) years. T visa status may also be extended to certain immediate family members, such as spouses, children and parents (when the victim is under 18 years of age)