March 29th, 2017
Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorneys
+1 (215) 564-1634

VAWA & U Visas

Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Self Petitions

The Violence Against Women Act was passed by Congress in 1994. VAWA recognized that immigration laws were used as tools of power and control over immigrant victims of domestic violence. In cases of domestic violence, U.S. immigration law allows certain victims of abuse who are not citizens to obtain lawful status without having to rely on their abuser to petition. Despite its name, both men and women are eligible to file VAWA petitions.

There are three possible forms of relief under VAWA:
    1) “Self-petition” if you were abused by:
  • Your U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse (or if that spouse has abused your child);
  • Your U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident parent (including a step-parent); or
  • Your U.S. citizen adult son or daughter
    2) “Battered spouse or child waiver”
    If you have conditional legal permanent residence as a spouse (or as a child) of a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident, and the U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident has abused you.
    3) If you are in removal proceedings before an immigration judge, and you were abused by your U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse or parent (Or you have a child with the U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident who is abused by him/her), it might be possible to apply for “VAWA cancellation of removal.”

VAWA does not require the applicant to have filed a criminal complaint against their abuser.
Also, VAWA allows the applicant to immediately apply for legal permanent residency once their case has been approved. It is important to speak with an immigration attorney to determine which law best suits your case and will be the most effective in attaining your immigration goals.

U Nonimmigrant Visa

(available to victims of specified crimes)

The U visa allows victims, or witnesses, of certain types of crimes to apply for a temporary nonimmigrant visa to the U.S. and eventually apply for legal permanent residency. In order to be eligible for this visa the person must have been a victim of at least one one of the following crimes (or attempted crimes):

  • Torture;
  • Trafficking;
  • Domestic violence;
  • Sexual assault;
  • Female genital mutilation;
  • Involuntary servitude;
  • False imprisonment;
  • Blackmail;
  • Manslaughter;
  • Murder;
  • Felonious assault;
  • Witness tampering;
  • Obstruction of justice; or
  • Perjury.

The victim must also suffer substantial physical or mental abuse because of this crime, be helpful in the investigation, and receive a certification from the police, prosecutor or judge in the case certifying that the victim was helpful in the investigation.

There is no time bar for when the crime took place. Additionally, victims may also apply overseas and come to the US once the U visa is approved. Contact us for further assistance.