Legal Permanent Residence through the Violence Against Women’s Act
As a battered spouse, child, or parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, you may file an immigrant visa petition under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). VAWA allows certain spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents (green card holders) to file a petition without the abuser’s assistance. This will allow you to seek both safety and independence from the abuser. The provisions of VAWA apply equally to women and men. Your abuser will not be notified that you have filed for immigration benefits under VAWA.
T Visa (Anti-Trafficking)
Persons brought to the U.S. involuntarily or through deception for the purposes of involuntary servitude or prostitution, are physically present in the U.S. due to trafficking, and are under 15 years of age, may be eligible for a T visa. A person who has complied with any federal law enforcement agency’s reasonable request for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of acts of trafficking may also qualify for a T Visa. After three years in this non-immigrant status, the individual may be eligible for legal permanent residence.
Temporary Protected Status
When country conditions, such as natural disasters (e.g. earthquakes, tsunamis, etc.) or political unrest prevent foreign nationals in the U.S. from safely returning to their home country, the U.S. government may grant Temporary Protected Status to those individuals who are already in the United States. Eligible individuals without nationality who last resided in the designated country may also be granted TPS.
During a designated period, eligible individuals:
- Are not removable from the United States
- Cannot be detained by DHS
- May obtain an employment authorization document (EAD)
- May apply for travel authorization
Although having TPS by itself does not lead to permanent resident status (a green card), a TPS beneficiary may immigrate permanently under another provision of law, if qualified.
The “U-Visa” or “U non-immigrant status” is temporary permission to be in the U.S. for certain crime victims who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse as a result of the crime. U visas were created by the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 to strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to detect, investigate, and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking of persons, and other violent criminal activity of which aliens are victims while offering protection to the victims and their families.
Approved U petitioners will be granted temporary legal status and work authorization. After three years in such status, persons granted U visas are eligible to apply for lawful permanent resident status.
How to Qualify for Asylum
To qualify for asylum, you must be from a country where you have been persecuted, or you believe that you will be persecuted if you return to that country. You must have evidence that backs up this belief.
The persecution must be based on at least one of these:
- Membership in a Certain Social Group
- Political Opinion
You may be at a port of entry or already be in the United States to qualify for asylum. When applying, you must do it within 1 year of your arrival to the U.S. If it has been over one year and you apply for asylum, you may qualify for an exception.
Exceptions for asylum applications include:
A change in your circumstances that materially affects your asylum eligibility
Circumstances that were out of your control prevented you from filing on time, like a serious illness, mental or physical disability.
What is Counts as Persecution?
The Immigration and Nationality Act does not give a specific definition of what persecution is, although it does specify harm involving the fear of being "forced to abort a pregnancy or to undergo involuntary sterilization, or ... persecuted for failure or refusal to undergo such a procedure or for other resistance to a coercive population control program” (I.N.A. Section 101(a)(42). However, the applicant must be able to prove that what they fear should be viewed as persecution.
These are some examples of persecution:
- Disproportionate punishment for a crime
- Harmful threats
- Mental, emotional, or psychological harm
- Physical violence
- Unlawful detention
- Violations of human rights
Call U.S. Immigration Law Group, LLP
Our Santa Ana humanitarian visa attorneys are ready to guide you through the application process.
Call (714) 786-1166 to request an initial consultation with a humanitarian visa attorney at U.S. Immigration Law Group, LLP.