Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and U Visa Eligibility

VAWA enables abused women, men, and children to seek legal residency in the US independently of their abusers. Prior to the passage of VAWA, an abusive US citizen or legal permanent resident could prevent his/her spouse or child from reporting abuse by withholding a promised permanent resident visa petition and threatening to turn the spouse or child in for deportation if they tried to leave the abuser.

In order to obtain legal residency status, applicants no longer have to demonstrate that they would suffer extreme hardship were they to be deported. Furthermore, victims of domestic violence are now allowed to apply for permanent residence from outside the US, so long as they can demonstrate that the abuse took place in the US.

Eligibility for VAWA

Adjustment of status under VAWA is available for abused spouses who can demonstrate one of the following:

  • a connection between the battering or extreme cruelty of the US citizen / legal permanent resident spouse and the legal termination of their marriage within the last two years;
  • the abusing spouse lost his or her immigration status within the past two years for reasons related to domestic violence;
  • the abusing spouse, who must be a US citizen, died within the last two years;
  • the abuser was a bigamist.

In order to qualify, it is not necessary to show that the US citizen used violence or that the spouse suffered physical harm.

Special Regulations for VAWA applicants

VAWA applicants are eligible for waivers concerning lack of good moral character, so long as the act or conviction was connected with abuse or cruelty. VAWA applicants are also eligible for waivers of inadmissibility due to being HIV positive and are exempt from the public charge ground for inadmissibility.

U Visa Eligibility

To be eligible for a U visa, an applicant must have suffered “substantial physical or mental abuse” resulting from a wide range of criminal activity, including domestic abuse or involuntary servitude. The applicant must also be able to provide information that could assist law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of that crime. U visa holders are authorized to work and may apply for adjustment of status after three years.

How does White & Associates help?

If you have been a victim of abuse and are seeking any rights under VAWA or a U visa, the experienced professionals at White & Associates can provide legal support. White & Associates can help assess your case, address any relevant legal issues, prepare and gather documentation, and prepare you for the interview. These cases can be quite complex and require thorough preparation. Affidavits, witness statements, doctor/psychologist reports, police reports, and analysis of contemporaneous correspondence and evidence often make up a part of the file. If you would like assistance with any or all stages of the application process, please contact us.