Humanitarian Relief: For Victims of Certain Crimes, Human Traffickers, and Domestic Violence or Abuse
Immigration & Nationality Law
U.S. immigration laws provide for humanitarian relief to be granted to certain foreign nationals who have been victims of certain crimes, human trafficking, or domestic violence or abuse. The most common forms of humanitarian relief are: U Nonimmigrant Status, T Nonimmigrant Status, and self-petitions under the Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”). USCIS does not notify the perpetrator of a covered crime or form of abuse that a petition has been filed to protect the safety of the petitioner under one of these programs.
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U Nonimmigrant Status is a status that may be granted to direct or indirect victims of certain crimes described at https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/victims-human-trafficking-other-crimes/victims-criminal-activity-u-nonimmigrant-status/victims-criminal-activity-u-nonimmigrant-status if they are able to prove that the crime occurred in the United States, they have suffered substantial physical or emotional harm as a result of the crime, and they assisted or were or are willing to assist the police in investigating the crime. A qualified law enforcement entity must certify that a covered crime was committed against the victim and that the victim is cooperating, has cooperated or is or was willing to cooperate in the investigation of the crime. Certain family members may also qualify for U-nonimmigrant status as derivatives of a victim’s petition. Foreign nationals granted U nonimmigrant status receive work authorizations for 4 years and may apply for lawful permanent residence status once they have resided in the United States for 3 years in U nonimmigrant status.
T Nonimmigrant Status is a status that provides protection to victims of human trafficking and certain members of their family. Human trafficking includes both sex trafficking and labor trafficking. A person qualifies for T Nonimmigrant status if he or she is a victim of human trafficking in the United States, complies with any reasonable requests for assistance by law enforcement authorities investigating the trafficking, and would suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm if they are removed from the United States. Foreign nationals granted nonimmigrant status receive work authorization for 4 years and are eligible to apply for lawful permanent residence as soon as the investigation or prosecution of the trafficking is complete or after being in T nonimmigrant status for 3 years, which ever happens first.
The Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”) allows for the spouse, child, and parent of U.S. citizen or legal permanent residents to be granted lawful permanent residence status if he or she meets the following requirements: (1) he or she is or was the spouse, child, or parent of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident; (2) he or she was the victim of a battery or extreme cruelty by their U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, parent, son or daughter; (3) he or she resided with the abusive spouse, parent, son or daughter; (4) he or she is a person of good moral character; and (5) if an abused spouse, the marriage was entered in good faith and not solely to obtain immigration benefits. Foreign nationals whose petitions for VAWA status are approved are granted work authorization and may apply for lawful permanent residence. Under VAWA, foreign nationals in removal proceedings may also apply for cancellation of removal before Immigration Court.
HSPRD are experienced in representing clients in U, T and VAWA matters. To schedule a consultation with HSPRD attorneys regarding U, T, or VAWA matters, please contact our Firm at 312-239-7676.
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