Attorneys in New Orleans for Victims of Crime and Human Trafficking
What is the U-Visa?
A U-Visa is a nonimmigrant visa for victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and can help United States law enforcement or government prosecute criminal activity. The U Visa was created by Congress in October 2000 to make it possible for victims of sex crimes such as the human trafficking, sexual assault, physical abuse, and other violent crimes to come forward to law enforcement authorities.
Often, victims and survivors of such crimes do not feel safe speaking to authorities for fear of deportation or detainment. Many such victims are usually undocumented immigrants and do not have legal immigrant status, making them fear law enforcement agencies. Because of this, criminals who target undocumented immigrants often get away with their crimes, and immigrant communities become subjected to higher crime rates.
The visa allows these crime survivors to feel safe approaching law enforcement and ensuring accountability for criminal activity. With survivors coming forward to tell of the crimes that happened to them, the hope is that law enforcement’s ability to investigate and build a case against criminal activity will be better.
Victims of crime may eventually qualify for a green card in the future but must have U nonimmigrant status first.
Who is eligible for a U-visa?
In order to be eligible for a U Visa an individual meet the following requirements:
Must be a victim of certain enumerated crimes or similar criminal activity;
Must possess information concerning the criminal activity;
Must be helpful, have been helpful, or be likely to be helpful to a federal, state, or local government agency or family, civil or criminal court in the detection, investigation, prosecution, conviction or sentencing of the criminal activity;
Must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of one or more qualifying criminal activities; and
The criminal activity must have violated the federal or state laws of the U.S. or have been perpetrated in the U.S. or its territories and possessions.
In order to prove helpfulness, the applicant must obtain a certification from a law enforcement official, prosecutor, judge, DHS official, or other federal, state or local government authority involved in investigating, prosecuting, convicting or sentencing any of the qualifying criminal activities.
What is a T-Visa?
The T Visa was created to provide immigration relief to victims of “severe forms of human trafficking,” A T Visa protects recipients from removal and gives them permission to work in the United States. Bona fide T-visa applicants also have access to the same benefits as refugees, including cash assistance, food assistance, and job training. Spouses and unmarried children may qualify as depending family members of the trafficking victim. Additionally, if the applicant is under 21, derivatives may include parents and unmarried minor siblings of the trafficking victim.
Who is eligible for a T-visa?
An immigrant may be eligible for a T visa if the person:
Is a victim of a severe form of trafficking; which includes sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by fraud, force, coercion, or in which the victim is younger than 18 years of age; OR the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjecting the individual to involuntary servitude or slavery.
Is physically present in the United States on account of trafficking;
Assists law-enforcement officials in the investigation or prosecution of the traffickers (victims under 18 years of age are exempted from this requirement); and
Can demonstrate that she will suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm if removed from the United States.
What is a VAWA Self-Petition?
VAWA stands for the Violence Against Women Act, which was passed by Congress in 1994. VAWA created a special route to lawful immigration status for victims of domestic abuse who normally must rely on their abusers to file for status for them. VAWA self-petitioning allows victims of abuse who are close relatives of US citizens or lawful permanent residents (spouses, children, and parents) to file for status on their own.
Who is eligible for a VAWA Self-Petition?
VAWA self-petitions are available to spouses and former spouses of abusive U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. Divorced spouses may self-petition if the termination of the marriage was related to the abuse and if the application is filed within two years of the termination of the marriage. Children of abusive citizens or lawful permanent residents may file before turning 25. Additionally, a noncitizen parent of an abused noncitizen child, even if the noncitizen parent is not herself abused. Additionally non-citizen parents of U.S.-citizen or LPR who have been subjected to elder abuse.
In addition to proving abuse, a self-petitioner must also prove:
Good faith marriage if the abuser is a spouse or step-parent.
The relationship to the abuser.
The immigration status of the citizen or LPR spouse, parent, or child.
Good moral character.
Residence with the abusive family member.
Parent-child relationship if the applicant is a non-abusive noncitizen parent whose U.S.-citizen or LPR spouse perpetrated the abuse.
Do you want to apply for a visa for survivors of violence and trafficking? We are here to help!
At Golden Muños Law, we love to provide legal services and counsel to immigrants during every stage of their journey to become Green card holders and U.S. citizens. We know well the importance of diversity to a country's culture. Our team of attorneys is made up of professionals from different backgrounds and areas of expertise, ready to help identify the special needs of your case from different perspectives.