U and T Visa Applications and VAWA Petitions
Victims of Human Trafficking and Violent Crimes
Temporary nonimmigrant visas are available for victims of certain crimes, including T visas for victims of human trafficking; and, U visas for victims of violent crimes (some common examples include domestic violence, involuntary servitude, kidnapping, false imprisonment, assault)
These visa categories allow for a potential stay of three years and the possibility to apply for lawful permanent residence. To do so, you must cooperate in any criminal prosecution.
Victims of Domestic Violence
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the Battered Immigrant Women’s Protection Act of 2000, which was reauthorized this year, allows individuals, both men and women, to obtain residency in two ways—through self-petitioning or through cancellation of removal. VAWA requires that a self-petitioner show that he or she “has been battered or has been the subject of extreme cruelty” by a lawful permanent resident spouse, a U.S. citizen spouse, a lawful permanent resident parent, a U.S. citizen parent, or a U.S. citizen son or daughter. Abusive acts that may not initially appear violent may constitute “extreme cruelty” for the purposes of VAWA. Therefore, a person who has suffered no physical abuse may still be eligible to self-petition. VAWA is complicated and there are many requirements that must be met to ensure your self-petition is processed in a timely manner. Individuals should consult with a lawyer before proceeding and then determine whether legal representation is necessary to prepare and file the petition to make certain that any potential complications or issues are properly addressed.