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VAWA and U – Visa

VAWA

The Violence Against Women Act was established in 1994.  It allows battered spouse (men or women) and children of U.S. Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents to become Lawful Permanent Residents.  It also includes the parents of a U.S. Citizen who is abuse or subject to extreme cruelty.

To qualify you must be able to show:

  • You are currently the spouse or child (step child) of an abusive U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR);
  • You are either currently living with the U.S. Citizen or LPR or did in the past;
  • You have been abused or treated with extreme cruelty during your marriage or are the parent of a child who has been abused or treated with extreme cruelty by the U.S. Citizen or LPR;
  • You are a person of Good Moral Character;
  • Your deportation for the U.S. would result in extreme hardship to you or your child; and
  • You entered into the marriage in Good Faith.

If you have been or are a victim of any of the above crime, you are encouraged to contact law enforcement regardless of your legal status in the U.S..

 

U-Visa

If you have been a victim of domestic violence or a violent criminal act, you may qualify for a U-Visa.  To qualify for a U-Visa you must be able to show:

  • You have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse;
  • You possess credible and reliable information that shows you know about the violent criminal activity;
  • You have been, are being, or will helpful as a witness to prosecute the perpetrator;
  • And, the violent criminal act occurred in the United States.

There are certain violent criminal activities that are accepted at “Qualifying Criminal Activities.”  These include:

  • Abduction,
  • Blackmail,
  • Domestic Violence,
  • Extortion,
  • False Imprisonment,
  • Felonious Assault,
  • Female Genital Mutilation,
  • Fraud in Foreign Labor Contracting,
  • Being held as a hostage,
  • Incest,
  • Involuntary Servitude,
  • Kidnapping,
  • Man-slaughter,
  • Murder,
  • Obstruction of Justice,
  • Peonage,
  • Perjury,
  • Prostitution,
  • Rape,
  • Sexual Assault,
  • Abusive Sexual Contact,
  • Sexual Exploitation,
  • Slave Trade,
  • Stalking,
  • Torture,
  • Trafficking,
  • Unlawful Criminal Restraint,
  • Witness Tampering,
  • Any attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of these crimes

“Qualifying Criminal Activity” will also include criminal conduct “similar” to any of the crimes listed above.

If you have been or are a victim of any of the above crime, you are encouraged to contact law enforcement regardless of your legal status in the U.S..

If you are a victim and qualify for the U-Visa you will be given the opportunity to qualify your spouse, un-married children (under 21), parents, and unmarried siblings (under 18).

Many rules of inadmissibility are waived for U-Visa candidates where Immigration finds it to be in the “Public Interest”.

Generally speaking the U-visa process involves 4 steps:

  1. Being certified by the appropriate law enforcement agency that you are a victim of a qualifying crime (this will be the police, Prosecutor, or even a Judge).
  2. Apply for the U-Visa
  3. Since there are only 10,000 visas issued per year you must apply and then wait for the visa to be issued, it can take up to one year to be issued your first U-Visa. Your petition will be put on a wait list.  While your petition is on the wait list, you can be granted deferred action or parole so that you can apply for and receive an Employment Authorization.
  4. Three years after your U-visa is approve you will be eligible to apply for Lawful Permanent Resident.

For more information about either of these visa opportunities, please contact us.

 

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