Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Lawyer Fairfax Virginia
Over the last two decades, Congress has enacted changes to U.S. immigration laws as a way to offer protection for immigrant victims of domestic violence and crime. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 1994 included provisions to allow immigrant victims of domestic violence to obtain immigration relief independent of their abusive spouse or parent through a process called “self-petitioning.” The Battered Immigrant Women Protection Act of 2000 (VAWA 2000) created new forms of immigration relief for immigrant victims of violent crime (“U” visas) and victims of sexual assault or trafficking (“T” visas). Finally, the Violence Against Women Act of 2005 expanded these protections to also include victims of elder abuse.
The U visa was created by the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 to protect certain crime victims without status who assist in the investigation and/or prosecution of a criminal offense. A U visa grants the victim permission to live and work in the United States and can result in the dismissal of any case in immigration court filed against the immigrant.
Noncitizens with U visas are eligible to receive a work permit. Applicants who apply from within the U.S. automatically receive work authorization when the application is approved. Family members included in the victim’s application can also be eligible to apply for a work permit.
There are up to 10,000 U visas available each year for primary applicants. Spouses and unmarried children (and, if the applicant is under 21, parents and unmarried minor siblings) of U Visa applicants may also qualify to be included in the victim’s application. There is no limit on the number of visas available for dependent family members.
The T Visa was created to provide immigration relief to victims of severe forms of human trafficking, defined as:
(1) 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
(2) the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for laboror services, through use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection toinvoluntary servitude or slavery.
A T visa protects recipients from removal and gives them permission to work in the United States. T-visa applicants may also have access to the same benefits as refugees, including cash assistance, food stamps, and job training.
There are up to 5,000 T visas available each year. Spouses and unmarried children (and, if the applicant is under 21, parents and unmarried minor siblings) of T-visa applicants may also qualify as dependent family members of the trafficking victim. There is no limit on the number of visas available for qualified family members.