VICTIMS OF CRIME
VICTIMS OF CRIME
There may be a pathway to a green card if you were a victim of a crime in the United States. Neri Law Offices has a criminal immigration attorney; an attorney who is knowledgeable in both criminal and immigration law.
Our criminal immigration attorney in Los Angeles has extensive experience working with victims of crime and can assess the details of your case to provide the best option for you.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT (VAWA)
The Violence Against Women Act, known as “VAWA” was passed by Congress in 1994 and gave battered spouses and children of U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR) the opportunity to petition USCIS on their own behalf via Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, rather than rely on the abusive spouse or parent. There have been acts passed since 1994 (VAWA 2000 and VAWA 2005) that have removed obstacles, strengthened the original legislation, and expanded protections. VAWA protects both men and women and the parents of an abusive U.S. citizen or LPR if the son or daughter is at least 21 years old.
To qualify for VAWA as the spouse of an abusive U.S. citizen or LPR, you must show:
- You entered the marriage in good faith;
- During the marriage, you or your child were battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by the U.S. citizen or LPR spouse;
- Past or present residence with the U.S. citizen or LPR;
- Current residence in the United States or if living abroad, that the abusive spouse is a U.S. government employee or member of the uniformed services (military), or subjected the noncitizen to battery or extreme cruelty in the U.S;
- You are a person of good moral character; and
- At the time of filing the petition and at the time of approval of the petition, your spouse was a U.S. citizen or LPR, or was a U.S. citizen or LPR and lost that status because of the abuse.
An additional requirement for a child to qualify is that s/he is unmarried, less than 21 years of age, and qualifies as a “child” under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) when the petition is filed and approved.
Once your Form I-360 is approved, you will be eligible for a work permit. If the abuser is a U.S. citizen, you may be ready to file for Adjustment of Status to obtain your green card in the United States. You can file Form I-360 even if you are currently living abroad if the abuse occurred in the United States. Additionally, you can file Form I-360 even if your marriage was terminated if you do so within two (2) years of the termination date. You must not re-marry prior to the approval of the petition.
The Violence Against Women Act of 2000 (VAWA 2000) passed by Congress recognized that without providing protection for undocumented immigrant crime victims from retaliation, few would be willing to report crimes and pursue civil or criminal actions against the perpetrators. The U Visa is for victims of crime who can show:
- Qualifying criminal activity
- Substantial physical or mental abuse
Crimes that qualify are:
- Abusive Sexual Contact
- Attempt to Commit Any of the Named Crimes
- Being Held Hostage
- Conspiracy to Commit Any of the Named Crimes
- Domestic Violence
- False Imprisonment
- Felonious Assault
- Female Genital Mutilation
- Fraud in Foreign Labor Contracting
- Involuntary Servitude
- Obstruction of Justice
- Sexual Assault
- Sexual Exploitation
- Slave Trade
- Solicitation to Commit Any of the Named Crimes
- Unlawful Criminal Restraint
- Witness Tampering
There is also a “catch-all” provision for “Other Related Crimes” that can be explored. The victim must obtain a signed certification completed by a certifying agency. Certifying agencies include but are not limited to Federal, State, or Local:
- Law enforcement agencies;
- Prosecutors’ offices;
- Family protective services;
- Departments of Labor; and the
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; and
- Other investigative agencies.
Even if no police report was filed, but there is a court record, you may be eligible for a U Visa via a judge motion. Neri Law Offices has drafted and submitted multiple judge motions with success. As the parent of the victim, you may be able to show that you are an “indirect victim” and thus qualify for a U Visa. The U Visa has one of the most generous waivers that can allow you to become a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) even if you have “negative” factors on your record such as a deportation, false claim to U.S. citizenship, and even a criminal conviction that would otherwise make you ineligible for a green card.