U-Visa/U Nonimmigrant Status
The U-visa was created to protect certain victims of crime who help or are willing to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of a crime. A U-visa grants the victim permission to live and work in the United States and may result in the termination of removal proceedings in Immigration Court. Persons granted a U-visa are eligible to receive a work permit. Spouses and unmarried children (and, if the applicant is under 21, parents and unmarried minor siblings) of U-visa applicants may qualify to be included in the victim’s application and may themselves be eligible to receive a U-visa to remain in or come to the U.S.
Persons whose U-visa applications are approved are granted U Non-immigrant status. This status is valid for up to four years. After three years in U Non-immigrant status, a U-visa holder is eligible to apply for permanent residence ( a “green card”).
There are complicated requirements which must be met to qualify for a U-visa and to apply to obtain permanent residence when you have been granted a U-visa. If you have been the victim of a crime and want to know whether you are eligible to apply for a U-visa, or if you have already been granted a U-visa and would like to apply to become a permanent resident, contact our office today.
T-Visa/T Non-immigrant Status
T-visas are for victims human trafficking, which is defined as (1) sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by fraud, force, coercion, or in which the victim is younger than 18 years of age, or (2) the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude or slavery. Individuals granted a T-visa are protected from removal and given permission to work in the United States. Spouses and unmarried children (and, if the applicant is under 21, parents and unmarried minor siblings) of T-visa applicants may qualify to be included in the trafficking victim’s application.
T-visas are valid for four years. After three years in T Non-immigrant status, or when the investigation or prosecution is completed, a T-visa holder is eligible to apply for permanent residence ( a “green card”).
There are complicated requirements which must be met to qualify for a T-visa and to apply to obtain permanent residence when you have been granted a T-visa. You should seek the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney if you have been the victim of trafficking and want to know whether you are eligible to apply for a T-visa, or if you have already been granted a T-visa and would like to apply to become a permanent resident.
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
Under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) male ad female immigrant victims of domestic violence, child abuse, or elder abuse may “self-petition” for lawful permanent resident status. The self-petition may be filed confidentially and safely without the abusers knowledge. Applicants whose applications are approved will be provided with work authorization, deferred action, and an approved immigrant petition which allows the applicant to apply for lawful permanent residence (a “green card”).
The following persons may file a VAWA self-petition:
- Spouses and former spouses of abusive U.S. Citizens or lawful permanent residents. Divorced spouses may self-petition if the termination of the marriage was related to the abuse and if the application is filed within two years of the termination of the marriage.
- Children of abusive citizens or lawful permanent residents who file before turning 25.
- An immigrant parent of an abused immigrant child, even if the immigrant parent is not herself or himself abused.
- Non-citizen spouses whose children are abused by the child’s other U.S. Citizen or lawful permanent resident parent.
In addition to proving abuse, the applicant must also prove: their relationship to the abuser; that they have good moral character; that the marriage was in “good faith” if the abuser is a spouse or step-parent; the immigration status of the U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident spouse, parent, or child; and that they resided with the abusive family member.