Understanding the difference between U Visas, VAWA and T Visas is complex and hard to decide which to apply for. For example, human trafficking is also a qualifying serious crime, meaning the victim would qualify for both U and T visas.
A U visa allows victims of certain qualifying criminal activity to reside and work in the United States lawfully. This classification was created in the interest of assisting law enforcement and for humanitarian purposes.
Who Is eligible for U Visa?
You may qualify for the U Visa if you meet certain requirements:
- When a person was a victim,
- of qualifying criminal activity in the United States,
- who suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of the criminal activity,
- and possesses credible and reliable information concerning the criminal activity,
- and has been helpful or is likely to be helpful to law enforcement.
The term “victim” does not have to be the direct victim of the crime. For example, the direct victim was murdered, then the spouse or children under 21 years of age are considered victims that are eligible to apply for a U visa. Also, if the direct victim was a child under 21 years of age, the parents and siblings under the age of 18 are considered victims that are eligible to apply for a U visa.
“Qualifying criminal activity” is defined by statute, and includes crimes such as murder, torture, blackmail, aggravated robbery. There are nearly 30 crimes enumerated.
“Substantial physical or mental abuse” as a result of the criminal activity is based on a totality of circumstances, including the nature of the injury suffered, the duration of the infliction of the harm, the permanence of the harm injury, and the physical and mental soundness of the victim.
Possession of credible and reliable information and helpfulness to law enforcement may be established by police certifications and declarations.
When can you obtain a U Visa?
While those who entered unlawfully or are out of status are free to apply for a U Visa any time of the year, there is a 10,000 visa cap. Up to 10,000 U visas are issued each year. Once the cap is reached, victims requesting U visas will be placed on a wait list and will be issued deferred action, meaning that victims will at least be no longer eligible for deportation while the petition is pending.
What benefits does the U Visa provide?
The most important benefit is that the U Visa holder may independently file for a green card through adjustment of status after being physically present in the US for 3 years since the U visa was granted. Derivative family members of the victim also receive employment authorization, but will have to apply for the document for a fee. The new "bona fide determination" by DHS will grant the applicant protection from deportation -called Deferred Action and will be eligible for work authorization for four years.
Previous to the VAWA Act, many individuals felt trapped in their abusive relationships and didn’t feel that they had a way out. With VAWA, an abused individual no longer has to rely on their abuser to obtain lawful status in the United States.
Who is eligible for VAWA?
You may qualify for the VAWA if you meet certain requirements:
- Immigration Status of the Abuser
The abuser must be a U.S. citizen (USC) or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). If the abuse occurred before the abuser gained his or her current status, you may still file a petition under VAWA. If the abuser loses his or her citizenship or green card, you may also still apply. However, if the abuser lost status as a result of a domestic violence incident, you must file under VAWA within two years of the abuser using his or her citizenship status.
- Relationship to the Abuser
You must be a spouse of the abuser or the parent of a child who was abused by your spouse. Even if the marriage ends because of the abuse, you can still file as long as it is within two years of the end of the marriage.
If the abuser has passed away, you have two years since his or her death to file a VAWA petition. If you choose to end your marriage after you have filed, there will be no effect on your petition. However, if you re-marry after filing, but prior to the approval of your VAWA petition, you could be denied.
- Occurrence of the Abuse
- The abuse must have happened during your marriage to the USC or LPR abuser. Although a police report is not a requirement, you still must be able to prove some type of abuse. The abuse can be physical, emotional, economic, sexual, verbal or any other form that harms you or your child. The list of qualifying abuse is extensive; consulting professional will help you determine this specific qualification. Proving abuse can be complex and it is recommended that you consult with a legal professional in order to determine if you have a valid case.
- Good Faith Marriage
Your marriage with the USC or LPR abuser must have been made in good faith. If you entered your marriage with the sole intent of obtaining a green card or any other fraudulent reason, you will not meet the requirements to file a petition under the VAWA.
- U.S. Residency
In order to petition for a green card under VAWA, you must reside in the United States, with little exceptions. One exception to this requirement is if you are living abroad because the USC or LPR is employed by the United States government or armed services. The abuse needs to have occurred in the United States.
- Living Situation
As some point in time, you must have resided with the USC or LPR abuser. The length of time does not matter and you do not have to currently reside with the abuser. Even if you only lived with your abuser for a short time, you may still qualify to file under VAWA.
- Good Moral Character
To qualify for a green card under VAWA, you must provide evidence that you are a person of good moral character. This will generally refer to your criminal record, past arrests or other illegal transgressions. If you do have a past record that could potentially affect your moral character, it is best to consult an experienced VAWA immigration attorney.
If you are in an abusive situation and interested in learning more about VAWA, contact Law Office Of Yovanna Vargas today.
Proving your eligibility under the VAWA can be complex; therefore it is in your best interest to contact an immigration lawyer who has experience with VAWA petitions.
Whether your VAWA case is reviewed by an immigration officer or an immigration judge, hiring an experienced immigration VAWA attorney is the best way to ensure you put together the right evidence to win.
If you believe you may qualify VAWA, call Law Office of Yovanna Vargas at (214) 802-9979 or Text us at (469) 677-8464 today.
The T Nonimmigrant Status (T Visa) grants past and current human trafficking victims protection and permission to stay in the United States while aiding in the investigation or prosecution of a human trafficking case.
Who is eligible for T Visa
You may qualify for the T Visa if you meet certain requirements:
- You meet the legal definition of a past or current victim of trafficking.
- As a result of trafficking, you are at a port of entry to United States, or present in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, or the U.S.
- During investigation or prosecution, you satisfy requests, within reason, from law enforcement officials. Minors (17 years or younger) and victims suffering from physical or psychological trauma are exempt.
- You can show that expulsion from the United States would cause you extraordinary, undue, and excessive harm.
- You are “admissible” to enter the United States legally. If not, you may apply for a waiver.
T Visa applicants must have been “trafficked” into the U.S.
The T Visa requires that you are in the United States as a consequence of being a victim of human trafficking. Unlike the U Visa where you may have traveled to the U.S. for another purpose and then became a human trafficking victim, the T visa demands that human trafficking be the only reason you are in the United States.
Therefore, to meet the requirements of the T Visa, in nearly all cases, you must solely be in the United States as a result of a human trafficker’s actions. You may have been tricked, kidnapped, coerced, or employed to travel to the United States.
Applying for a T Visa
The multiple step application process for T Visas is difficult, and the laws surrounding T Visas are complex. Therefore, you are advised to seek the guidance of a qualified immigration attorney rather than filing for a T Visa on your own. An outline of the application procedures for T Visas follows:
Applicants must be “admissible”
If you have several criminal convictions, immigration violations, or specific medical conditions, you may be considered “inadmissible”. There also are other circumstances where you may be found “inadmissible”. To establish your admissibility, contact a qualified immigration lawyer at once. If you are “inadmissible”, you can still request a waiver.
If you or someone you care about has been a victim of human trafficking, don’t hesitate to contact us at (214) 802-9979 or Txt us at (469) 677-8464. Human trafficking is a terrible crime that can happen to anyone. The victims of human trafficking often lack opportunities, employment, and income in their home country. With this knowledge, traffickers are able to trick their victims into accepting overseas employment which, upon arrival, may turn into slavery, involuntary servitude, or sex work.
It’s the traffickers who should feel ashamed, not you. We understand this so you never need to feel uncomfortable or embarrassed with us. We can assist you in learning more about the T Visa application process and will guide you through every step of the process.
Contact a Texas Immigration Attorney Today
Preparation of an effective humanitarian petition or relief generally requires the assistance of an attorney with experience working with victims of trauma. To discuss your case, please contact the Law Office of Yovanna Vargas today at (214) 974-3793.