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Visas For Victims Of Crime And Abuse

Congress created the Violence Against Women Act and the U visa as an incentive for victims of crime to contact law enforcement. Prior to the advent of the U visa, undocumented immigrants were reluctant to report crimes for fear of deportation. This made them easy targets for criminals who had little fear of being caught. It also made it harder for law enforcement to make inroads to immigrant communities. Fear of deportation made people in immigrant communities reluctant to help police in criminal investigations.

VAWA And U Visa Applications

Qualification for a VAWA or U visa application is one of the ways that you may be able to petition for yourself to have lawful immigration status in the United States. Under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), spouses and children of United States citizens may file their own petition if they were battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by their United States citizen or legal permanent resident spouse or parent. In many instances, this self-petition can be combined with an application for legal permanent residency and many usual grounds of inadmissibility are waived for VAWA applicants.

A U visa is for victims of certain crimes who suffered substantial harm as a result of the crime and who cooperated with law enforcement. Spouses and minor, and unmarried children can be included as derivatives on a U visa application, and if they reside in a foreign country, they can lawfully immigrate to the United States following the U visa approval. U visa holders may be able to adjust their status to legal permanent residency three years after approval of their U visa, if they meet all eligibility requirements.

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