U and T Visas
There are several humanitarian paths to Legal Permanent Resident Status, also known as a green card, for victims of crime. The most common of these “humanitarian paths to residency” are U nonimmigrant status (“U-Visa”), T nonimmigrant status (“T-Visa”), and status as a Violence Against Women Act self-petitioner (“VAWA”). The U-Visa is granted to those who have suffered psychological or physical harm as a result of being the victim of a serious crime and who have also been helpful to law enforcement agencies investigating and/or prosecuting the crime. The T-Visa is granted to victims of serious human trafficking that have been helpful to law enforcement agencies investigating and/or prosecuting the crime. The U-Visa and T-Visa work similarly to the extent that one solicits the nonimmigrant status based on being a victim of a qualifying criminal activity, and then, after a certain period of time, one may file for their green card assuming they have met the conditions required by law. Both the U-Visa and T-Visa allow the nonimmigrant victim to petition for qualifying relatives so that they too may have green cards. The VAWA self-petitioner process is distinct from the two previous processes. VAWA self-petitioners may self-petition for a green card if they are the victim battery or extreme cruelty committed by: a U.S. citizen spouse or former spouse; a U.S. citizen parent; a U.S. citizen son or daughter; a lawful permanent resident (“LPR”) spouse or former spouse; or an LPR parent. If your VAWA self-petition is approved and you meet other eligibility requirements, you may be eligible to apply to become a lawful permanent resident. Also, children of VAWA self-petitioners may in certain instances apply as derivatives and receive a green card. These processes can become very complicated and tedious. It is not advisable to attempt this process without the assistance of an attorney.