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Legal Protections for Abused Aliens: VAWA & U Visas. Stephen B. Yurik Lane Alton & Horst (614) 228-6885 [email protected] INTRODUCTION. Abused Aliens sometimes stay with an abusive spouse to avoid loss of legal status and deportation.

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Legal protections for abused aliens vawa u visas

Legal Protections for Abused Aliens: VAWA & U Visas

Stephen B. Yurik

Lane Alton & Horst

(614) 228-6885

[email protected]


  • Abused Aliens sometimes stay with an abusive spouse to avoid loss of legal status and deportation.

  • Protections provided by Federal Statutes make this unnecessary in many cases

Statutory protections

  • Violence Against Women(‘94), Battered Women Protection Acts (’00)

    • Abused spouses of U.S. Citizens (USCs) or Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) can self-petition to become LPR

      • Not dependent on USC or LPR spouse to obtain immigrant visa

Victims of trafficking and violence protection act of 2000
Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000

Created U Visas

  • U Visas – Available to Victims of substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of crimes

Immigration and the family
Immigration and the Family

  • USCs and LPRs can sponsor family members for LPR

    • LPRs defined

    • Most LPRs gain that status through family sponsorship

  • Immediate relatives of USC (spouses, unmarried children under 21, parents)

    • Not subject to statutory cap

    • Can apply for LPR upon marriage to USC

Immigration and the family1
Immigration and the Family

  • Preference Immigrants

    • 1 – Unmarried sons & daughters of USC

    • 2A – Spouses and unmarried children under 21 of LPRs

    • 2B – Unmarried sons and daughters of LPR

    • 3 – Married sons and daughters of USC

    • 4 – Siblings of USCs

  • Wait time

    • 4-10 years for most aliens

    • Longer for Mexico, Philippines, China, India

Immigration and the family2
Immigration and the Family

  • Process of Adjust of Status

    • I-130 Petition filed by USC or LPR spouse

      • Must establish own status;

      • And the qualifying family relationship

      • Can withdraw anytime before residency granted

    • I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status

      • Immediate relatives file immediately

      • Preference relatives must wait for priority date to become current (4-23 years)

Immigration and the family3
Immigration and the Family

Conditional Permanent Residency

  • LPR status is conditional when granted if married less than 2 years

  • Petition for removal of conditions 90 days before 2 year anniversary

  • Must prove good faith marriage

    • Documents

      • Joint purchases and accounts

      • Photographs

    • Interview

Potential for abuse
Potential for Abuse

  • Immigrant seeking legal status

  • Immigrant stays in abusive marriage to obtain or maintain LPR status

    • I-130

    • Petition to Remove Conditions

Self petition under vawa
Self Petition under VAWA

  • Criteria for Eligibility

    • Good faith marriage

    • Battered or subjected to extreme cruelty

    • Joint residence (past or present)

    • Current residence in U.S.

    • Good moral character

    • Abuser is or was USC or LPR

Self petition under vawa1
Self Petition Under VAWA

  • Divorce does not Disqualify if

    • Caused by battery or cruelty;

    • Petition filed within 2 years

  • Common disqualifiers don’t apply

    • Entry Without Inspection

    • Visa Overstay

    • Unlawful work

Self petition under vawa2
Self Petition Under VAWA

  • Evidentiary Standard – any credible evidence

  • Evidence of battery or cruelty

    • Medical records

    • Police reports

    • Court documents

    • Witness statements

Adjustment of status aos
Adjustment of Status (AOS)

  • Immediate Relatives

    • File for AOS simultaneously

  • Preference Immigrants

    • Wait for Priority Date

  • Eligible for Work Authorization

U visas
U Visas

  • To Encourage Exploited and Abused Illegal Aliens to Report Crimes

    • Undocumented can qualify

    • Doesn’t require marriage to LPR or USC

    • Provides path to legal status

Qualifying criteria
Qualifying Criteria

  • Victims of Certain Crimes

    • Trafficking, kidnapping

    • Domestic violence, etc.

  • Suffered Substantial Abuse

  • Has information about the crime

  • Certified as helpful to the investigation or prosecution

Benefits of u visas
Benefits of U Visas

  • Lawful Status

  • Employment Authorization

  • LPR status in some circumstances

    • Present in U.S. for 3 years after gain U status

    • Continued Presence justified on humanitarian, family unity or public interest grounds


  • Immigrants may be able to avail themselves of courts for divorce and keep or gain legal status

    • VAWA

    • U Visas