New York City VAWA & U Visa Attorney
VAWA & U Visa Guidance in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties
When someone is the victim of a crime or subject to abuse at the hands of their spouse, parent, or child, they may be able to access immigration benefits that allow them to remain in the United States. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) seeks to protect non-citizen victims of domestic violence, while U visas are offered to victims of crimes who are willing to cooperate with law enforcement.
At The Law Office of Jason A. Dennis, we are compassionate to the stress and uncertainty you are almost certainly experiencing in these difficult scenarios, and our New York City VAWA and U visa lawyer is committed to helping you pursue all available immigration solutions. Our attorney will work directly with you and provide the personal attention you and your case deserve. After carefully reviewing your situation, we will review your options and ensure you understand all possible scenarios. We care about your future in the United States and will do everything we can to deliver a successful outcome.
Schedule a free case evaluation by contacting us online or calling (347) 868-6100. Our firm offers flexible payment plans, same-day appointments, and services in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole.
How Does VAWA Self-Petitioning Work, and Who Qualifies?
Typically, when a non-citizen seeks a green card through family immigration, they must apply with the cooperation of their sponsoring family member. A non-citizen spouse will need to work with their citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse, for example, while a parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident child must apply with the help of their child, and vice versa.
Joint petitioning is often not practical when the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident family member is abusive. In fact, they may use their ability to access immigration benefits as leverage against the abused party.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) allows victims of domestic violence to self-petition for green cards. This means that an abused spouse, child, or parent can apply for a green card without the cooperation of their abusive partner, parent, or child, respectively. VAWA status also protects victims from deportation and allows for work authorization while they apply and wait for their visas.
Note that children who were abused must submit their applications before they turn 25. Non-citizen spouses can also self-petition if their citizen or lawful permanent resident partner abuses their children, even if the non-citizen spouse is not specifically subject to abuse.
A divorced spouse can self-petition so long as they start the process within two years of the termination of the marriage. The divorce must also be directly related to the abuse.
Despite its name, VAWA protections are not exclusive to women. The law applies to people of all sexes and genders.
Finally, note that VAWA can be defensively used in deportation proceedings. If you are targeted for removal but were abused by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident family member, VAWA may be able to facilitate the visa you need to stay in the country.
Not sure if your situation qualifies you for VAWA relief? Our New York City VAWA and U visa attorney will carefully go over the facts of your case and walk you through all available options.
Who Qualifies for a U Visa?
When you are the victim of a crime, there is a good chance you have information that law enforcement can use to pursue and convict the perpetrator. With a U Visa, you can temporarily stay in the United States while an investigation and/or trial plays out. During this process, you can get work authorization and are protected from deportation. Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 can also stay with you.
Crimes that may qualify victims for U visas include:
- Human trafficking
- Sexual assault
- Domestic violence
- False imprisonment
To get a U Visa, you must have information that will assist with the investigation and/or prosecution, and you must be willing to work with law enforcement throughout both processes. A member of law enforcement, judge, prosecutor, or some other government authority must sign off on your U visa application and verify that your continued presence will aid their work. You must also be otherwise admissible to the U.S. or qualify for a waiver of inadmissibility.
Your U visa will remain valid for up to four years initially, but the law enforcement official who certified your original application can request an extension if they still need your help. Note that only 10,000 U visas are available to principal applicants each year, so the process of getting one can be competitive.
After three years of having a U visa, you can potentially obtain a green card, but you must prove your lawful permanent residency in the United States is:
- In the public interest, meaning you have some sort of skill that would benefit the country or its workforce, or
- Will promote family unity, meaning you have family in the U.S. you would be separated from if you returned to your home country, or
- Of humanitarian interest, meaning it would not be safe for you to return to your home country.
In addition, you must also demonstrate you continuously cooperated with law enforcement and have good moral character. Any criminal history could jeopardize an assessment of “good moral character” and thus prevent you from getting a green card.
You deserve a strong advocate by your side when you are the victim of a crime and need immigration assistance. Our New York City VAWA and U visa lawyer will help you communicate with law enforcement and work to get the certification you need to successfully request a U visa. From there, The Law Office of Jason A. Dennis will continue to represent you and help you seek a green card after three years. We understand how these cases are reviewed and will craft a persuasive argument on why your green card request should be approved.
Get tailored legal support by calling (347) 868-6100 or contacting us online today.