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When you are the victim of abuse at the hands of the person who holds your immigration status in their hands, it can cause extreme stress and anxiety about the future. However, you may be able to apply for a VAWA visa, which is designed for victims of abuse and crimes. Luckily, a VAWA & U visa lawyer in New York City can help you navigate this complex and overwhelming process. The following blog explores the eligibility requirements for those looking to apply for a visa to gain entry into the United States when they have experienced abuse.

What Is a VAWA Visa?

A Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) visa is a type of visa specifically designed for non-citizens who have experienced abuse at the hands of their spouse, parent, or adult child. This allows the victim to self-petition for immigration without informing their abuser of their application.

One important aspect of this process is that those applying for this form of visa are shielded from deportation and can gain work authorization while waiting for their visa.

Who Qualifies for These Visas?

Generally, to obtain a green card, you must have an immediate relative who is a lawful, permanent citizen of the United States. However, if this lawful, permanent relative is abusive, you may qualify for a VAWA visa.

If you are a spouse, a child who is unmarried and under 21, or a parent of an abused child who is 21 and unmarried, you must prove your relationship and the extreme cruelty you have suffered at the hands of your abuser. It is essential to note that you are not required to file a police report proving the abuse.

Abuse includes, but is not limited to, the following behaviors:

  • Physical violence
  • Coercion
  • Sexual assault
  • Threats of violence
  • Verbal and emotional abuse
  • Intimidation
  • Economic abuse

If you wish to self-petition, you must provide additional information. This includes proving the marriage was in good faith and that the abuse took place during the period in which you were married. Similarly, the abuse must have occurred in the United States while living with the abuser. Finally, the self-petitioner must prove they are of good moral standing, which generally includes a criminal background check. However, if the victim can prove that the actions they committed were directly related to the abuse they suffered, this may be waived.

It’s also important to note that you may apply for a VAWA visa even if you are divorced, so long as you apply within two years of the divorce.

How Can a New York City Immigration Attorney Assist Me?

As you can see, there are many considerations you must make if you’ve suffered abuse at the hands of a spouse, parent, or adult child. If you’re looking to apply for a VAWA visa, it’s in your best interest to enlist the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney to help guide you through this complex process.

If you’ve been a victim of abuse, you have enough to worry about. The Law Office of Jason A. Dennis can help handle the legal complexities of applying for a visa so you can focus on healing and beginning the next chapter of your life. Contact us today to learn how we can assist you during these challenging times.