Should I apply for a U-Visa or VAWA?

             A domestic violence situation is extremely traumatic, and doubly so when the person suffering is also dependent on the abuser for their immigration status. Luckily, there are several ways under the law by which their immigration status can be fixed without relying on any help or input from the abuser.

             If the immigrant is married to a US citizen or greencard holder who is abusive, they can file a petition under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and can get a greencard by themselves without the abuser’s help. The immigrant does not need a police report or medical records, although those certainly help with the filing. They also do not have to be divorced or even separated from the abuser. There are strict rules preventing USCIS from disclosing information about the filing to the abuser. It is possible to obtain a greencard through a VAWA filing even where the couple is living together, without the abusive spouse’s knowledge.

There are other immigrants whose abusive spouses are not US citizens or greencard holders, or there can be abusive situations where the couple is in a relationship but not legally married. In both of these scenarios, filing for a U-visa might be a possibility.

             U-visas are designated for victims of certain particular crimes who are helpful to law enforcement, and domestic violence is one of those crimes. To file a U-visa application, neither the victim nor the abuser has to be in any kind of immigration status. However, it is necessary to involve the police and have them certify that the immigrant was helpful to them in investigating the crime. A U-visa approval allows the immigrant to have work authorization and puts them on the path to a greencard and eventual citizenship.

If you or someone you know finds themselves in the difficult situation of worrying about their immigration status while in an abusive situation, it is important to know that there are ways out. Please give us a call and we can discuss your options with you.

The Haq Law team understands the complex United States Immigration process and can guide you to make the most informed decision.
Contact us to set up an appointment today – 415.895.0661.

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