T and U Visas, VAWA, and Battered Spouses and Children

T visas are humanitarian in nature, intent and effect. These visas are available to individuals who are victims of "severe trafficking in persons." This includes individuals under the age of 18 who have been subjected to force, fraud, or coercion for sex trafficking and/or involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery. The United States provides 5000 such visas per year. Applicants granted the T visa have the option to adjust to legal permanent resident status after three years have past since the grant of the T visa. Spouses, parents, or children of the T visa recipient may also apply for and receive derivative visas. 

U visas are available to persons who have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been victims of a qualifying criminal activity. A qualifying criminal activity includes but is not limited to abduction, blackmail, domestic violence, false imprisonment, felony assault, female genital mutilation, and any attempt, conspiracy or solicitation to commit any of these crimes. The United States provides 10,000 such visas per year. Applicants granted the U visa may adjust to legal permanent resident status after three years have past since the grant of the U visa. Spouses, parents, or children of the U visa recipient may also apply for and receive derivative visas. 

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 1994 allows the spouse, child or parent who is battered or subjected to extreme cruelty to file a self-petition independently of the abusive U.S. citizen or green card holding spouse or parent. The petition must include evidence of battery/extreme cruelty, which includes but is not limited to reports and affidavits regarding the abuse, protective orders issued against the abuser, consultations with a psychologist or other mental health professional, and photographic evidence showing visible injuries. Applicants whose VAWA petition receive legal permanent resident status, and may apply for naturalization within three years. Spouses, parents or children of the VAWA recipient may also apply for and receive derivative benefits.

T, U and VAWA petitions require a detailed look at the circumstances and events surrounding the client's individual case. The strategy and options may vary widely from case to case. To determine the best course of action in your individual case, please contact our office to schedule a free consultation.