The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and U visa category offer immigration relief for victims of crimes and domestic violence. The purpose of the VAWA program is to allow victims the opportunity to “self-petition” or independently seek legal immigration status in the U.S. The U visa allows for temporary immigration benefits, and eventually, the ability to apply for permanent residence, for people who are victims of certain qualifying criminal activity who cooperate with law enforcement. Additionally, there is an “extreme cruelty” waiver of the joint petition to remove conditions on residence available to conditional residents who have been battered by their spouses or the petitioner if a child. A recent article regarding an “honor killing” in Toronto reminded me of the prevalence of domestic violence and misogyny. Many victims are often reluctant to come forward for fear of retaliation. For example, a VAWA self petitioner will not have to be interviewed with her spouse at an adjustment of status interview, as is commonly feared. Another common occurrence is that victims are often not aware of how atrocious the abuse they’ve suffered is because they normalize it. I’ve seen this similarly with people applying for political asylum. If you believe that you or a loved one may be eligible for relief, don’t delay in seeking the assistance of an immigration attorney or a community legal organization under the direction of an attorney.
For more information about me and my practice, please visit my website at www.alanoimmigrationlaw.com.