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Legal Protections for Abused Aliens: VAWA & U Visas. Stephen B. Yurik Lane Alton & Horst (614) 228-6885 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

  • 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