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Immigrant Victims of Crime
Have you been a victim of domestic abuse or some other serious crime in the United States? If you’re an immigrant, you may be eligible for relief up to an including lawful permanent resident status. As the victim of a serious crime, you don’t need to suffer in silence and you should never have to fear immigration repercussions for coming forward. With the right lawyer by your side, you don’t need to.
Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), an immigrant who is a victim of crime may be eligible to apply for certain immigration benefits and legal protections without the ramifications of being deported. To benefit, you don’t even need to have legal status. You must, however, be able to answer “yes” to each of the following questions:
- Are you the victim of domestic abuse or some other severe crime such as sexual assault, human trafficking or rape?
- Are you physically present in the United States?
- Can you assist with a criminal investigation?
- Can you prove extreme hardship if you face removal from the United States?
If you can answer “yes” to these questions, there are three main forms of protection you can apply for if you fall under this category: a T Visa, a U Visa and a VAWA petition.What Are the Requirements to Apply for a T Visa?
The T Visa is available for victims of human trafficking. To be eligible for this type of visa, an applicant must show that, aside from being a victim of human trafficking, the following are true:
- As a result of human trafficking, the individual is physically present in the United States;
- The individual took reasonable steps to assist law enforcement with the investigation of the human trafficking;
- The individual would suffer extreme hardship if he or she is not permitted to remain in the United States; and
- The individual must otherwise be admissible for entry into the United States or subject to a waiver.
If the victim is less than 18 years old, cooperation with law enforcement is not necessary due to the psychological effects and trauma of the crime. The T Visa is generally confined to situations involving human trafficking.
Many people don’t realize, a crime victim can also sponsor his or her unmarried children below the age of 21, spouse, parents and siblings under the age 18 who are unmarried. The key to being able to do so, however, is showing the T visa applicant would suffer extreme hardship if his or her relative could not remain in the United States.What Are the Requirements to Apply for a U Visa?
The U nonimmigrant status (U Visa), Form I-918, is specifically available for unlawfully residing immigrants in the United States that have been victims of serious crimes and are willing to assist legal and governmental officials in the investigation.
To be eligible to apply for the U Visa, you must:
- Be a victim of a qualifying crime and proof of severe physical/mental injury
- Possess credible information about the crime and perpetrator
- Assist in the investigation/prosecution
- Be otherwise admissible to the United States or subject to a waiver
A law enforcement official must certify your form for the U Visa to be eligible to receive the immigration protection.What Are the Requirements to File a VAWA Petition?
The federal Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”) allows victims of abuse and extreme cruelty the immigration benefit of being a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) of the United States.
To be eligible for a VAWA petition, you must have been the victim of a qualifying crime committed by:
- U.S. citizen spouse or former spouse
- U.S. citizen parent
- U.S. citizen son/daughter
- Lawful permanent resident spouse or former spouse
- Lawful permanent resident parent
In addition to the above qualifying relationships, the victim must live or currently live with the abuser and be of good moral character. When applying for a VAWA petition, you have the option to apply without the knowledge of your abusive relative. Based on your situation, you may have the opportunity to self-petition.Immigration Representation for Crime Victims
If you or a loved one are the victim of a crime, you should immediately seek the help of an experienced immigration attorney to answer any questions you may have regarding the legal immigration protection and benefits that are available.
At The BestImmigrationLawyer.com we have former federal prosecutors with significant experience in criminal cases. Combined with our immigration experience, we are uniquely qualified to help.
You matter! Contact The BestImmigrationLawyer.com today. Call us direct at 702-707-2000.