Image by Kien Do

VAWA, U AND T VISAS

Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

As a battered spouse, child, or parent, you may file an immigrant visa petition under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The VAWA provisions in the INA allow certain spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizens and certain spouses and children of permanent residents (Green Card holders) to file a petition for themselves, without the abuser's knowledge. This allows victims to seek both safety and independence from their abuser, who is not notified about the filing. The VAWA provisions, apply equally to women and men.

The following people are eligible to apply for a Green Card under this category:

  • Spouses: You may file for yourself if you are, or were, the abused spouse of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. You may also file as an abused spouse if your child has been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse. You may include on your petition your unmarried children who are under 21 if they have not filed for themselves;

  • Parents: You may file if you are the parent of a U.S. citizen who has abused you;

  • Children: You may file for yourself if you are unmarried, under 21, and have been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent. You may also include your children on your petition. You may file for yourself as a child after age 21 but before age 25 if you can demonstrate that the abuse was the main reason for the delay in filing.

The U nonimmigrant status (U visa)


The U nonimmigrant status (U visa) is set aside for victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity. Congress created the U nonimmigrant visa with the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (including the Battered Immigrant Women’s Protection Act) in October 2000. The legislation was intended to strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking of aliens and other crimes, while also protecting victims of crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse due to the crime and are willing to help law enforcement authorities in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity. The legislation also helps law enforcement agencies to better serve victims of crimes. 

You may be eligible for a U nonimmigrant visa if:

  • You are the victim of qualifying criminal activity.

  • You have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of criminal activity.

  • You have information about the criminal activity. If you are under the age of 16 or unable to provide information due to a disability, a parent, guardian, or next friend may possess the information about the crime on your behalf (see glossary for definition of ‘next friend’).

  • You were helpful, are helpful, or are likely to be helpful to law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime. If you are under the age of 16 or unable to provide information due to a disability, a parent, guardian, or next friend may assist law enforcement on your behalf.

  • The crime occurred in the United States or violated U.S. laws.

  • You are admissible to the United States. If you are not admissible, you may apply for a waiver on a Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant.

T nonimmigrant visa

T nonimmigrant status is a temporary immigration benefit that enables certain victims of a severe form of human trafficking to remain in the United States for up to 4 years if they have assisted law enforcement in an investigation or prosecution of human trafficking. T nonimmigrant status is also available for certain qualifying family members of trafficking victims. T nonimmigrants are eligible for employment authorization and certain federal and state benefits and services. T nonimmigrants who qualify may also be able to adjust their status and become lawful permanent residents (obtain a Green Card).

Congress created this status (commonly referred to as a T visa) in October 2000 as part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act. Human trafficking, also known as trafficking in persons, is a form of modern-day slavery in which traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to compel individuals to provide labor or services, including commercial sex. Traffickers often take advantage of vulnerable individuals, including those lacking lawful immigration status. T visas offer protection to victims and strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute human trafficking.

Under federal law, a “severe form of trafficking” is:

  • Sex trafficking: When someone recruits, harbors, transports, provides, solicits, patronizes, or obtains a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act, where the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or the person being induced to perform such act is under 18 years of age; or

  • Labor trafficking: When someone recruits, harbors, transports, provides, or obtains a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

You may be eligible for a T nonimmigrant visa if:

  • You are or were the victim of a severe form of human trafficking as defined above;

  • Are in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or at a port of entry due to trafficking;

  • Comply with any reasonable request from a law enforcement agency for assistance in the investigation and prosecution of human traffickers (unless you are under the age of 18 or the psychological and physical trauma has rendered you unable to assist);

  •  Demonstrate that you would suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm if you were removed from the U.S. and;

  • You are admissible to the United States. If you are not admissible, you may apply for a waiver on a Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant.

Armstrong Law Offices PLLC is committed to assisting victims of criminal acts and violence who are seeking immigration relief. We understand that you have suffered unspeakable abuse, and we will ensure that you are granted any and all relief for which you are eligible. The purpose of these humanitarian visas is to protect you, and we pledge to represent you to the best of our ability.