Visas & Green Cards for Violence Survivors
Have you been the victim of spousal abuse?
Are you a victim of a crime or witnessed a crime in the United States?
Did your boyfriend hurt you and you called the police for help?
Our firm has over 55 years of experience working with violence survivors from all walks of life. We focus much of our caseload on Conditional Green Card Waivers based on Extreme Cruelty, Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) for females and males, and U and T visas. We provide quality and compassionate services to assist you in putting together your case.
No matter where you are in your U.S. immigration journey, talk to us to see how we can help you. If your marriage is falling apart or you can’t trust your spouse to cooperate with your immigration case and if you already have your conditional green card, you may qualify for a conditional green card waiver based on extreme cruelty. CIS will need to understand that you endured physical, emotional, verbal, sexual and/or financial abuse from your spouse and you must prove the marriage is real, not one entered into for a green card. For more information about the Conditional Green Card Waiver Based on Extreme Cruelty, please click here.
If your spouse never filed any immigration paperwork for you with USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) or you have an upcoming green card interview and you can’t trust that your spouse won’t screw up your interview or even show, then talk to us about other options such as a VAWA self-petition. Let’s be realistic. It’s usually not the best interest of the person in control – for instance, your U.S. citizen spouse – to cooperate in losing some of that control by you gaining your green card. Many paranoid spouses believe that if and once their spouse obtains a green card, the spouse will have the confidence and means to leave the relationship finally – the abuse U.S. citizen will lose the control. So we see a lot of marriages fall apart right before the green card interview.
Often abusers use immigration status as a way to control and inflict fear and harm to their spouses. In 1994, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Congress recognized the obstacles immigrant victims of domestic violence may face as a result of their immigration status. As such, the law provides a process for eligible immigrant victims of domestic violence to “self-petition” to obtain immigration relief. Self-petitioners do not have to rely on their abusers in order to obtain immigration relief.. Despite the title of the legislation, VAWA protections extend to men as well as women, and lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transsexual people. VAWA protections also cover victims of child abuse and elder abuse. The VAWA self-petition process is confidential. The government will not disclose or share information about your application with anyone, so you can rest assured that your abuser will not find out about your application. For more information about the VAWA process for women self-petitioners, click here. For more information about the VAWA process for men self-petitioners click here.
Even if you are not married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, the federal Immigration and Nationality Act provides other remedies for victims of violence. The U visa is a special visa for immigrant victims of serious crimes who cooperate with law enforcement. The U visa was created to provide law enforcement with a tool to encourage immigrant victims to come forward and assist in the investigation and prosecution of serious crimes. The U visa assists not only immigrant victims of domestic violence but other victims of serious crimes. The U visa requires that the immigrant survivor of crime suffered substantial harm, possesses information about the qualifying crime, and has been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity, among other requirements.
A U visa is granted for a period of up to 4 years, which after 3 years of continuous residence in the United States, an applicant can apply to adjust status to a lawful permanent resident. U visa applicants may also include qualified family members in their application. For more information about the U Visa process, click here.
Another form of protection for survivors of violence is the T visa, which was created to provide immigration relief to victims of severe forms of human trafficking. Human trafficking can occur in many contexts. Human trafficking is found in domestic work, massage parlors, factories, hotels/restaurants, construction, agriculture, and other businesses throughout the United States, just to name a few places.
U.S. law defines severe forms of human trafficking as: (1) sex trafficking in which a commercial 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.
To qualify for a T Visa, an applicant must:
- Be the victim of a severe form of human trafficking;
- Comply with any reasonable request for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of the trafficking or has not attained the age of 18 years;
- Be present in the United States on account of being a victim of trafficking; and
- Suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm if s/he was removed from the United States.
T visas are issued for four years. After three years of continuous residence in the United States, a T visa holder may apply for adjustment of status. T visa applicants may also include family members in their applications. For more information about the T Visa process, click here.
As all this information illustrates, there are other options available in many circumstances for those seemingly trapped in a bad relationship or victimized by another person. You don’t have to go through this alone. Talk to us about your immigration case and will work with you to find the right solution tailored to your situation.
SGG’s team of removal and family immigration attorneys have been doing these cases for decades. We know what works and how to document cases to make them persuasive and how to help you best tell your story to immigration authorities.