VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE VISAS
TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS (TPS)
Foreign nationals within the U.S. may be granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) if their country of origin is designated by the U.S. Attorney General to be too dangerous for a safe return. This status can only be granted if the foreign national is within the United States before or on the day that the Attorney General made the designation. While the individual holds protected status, they may work and live within the U.S. without being deported. If an individual qualifies for TPS, they should register themselves with the U.S. government within the registration period.
Because TPS is not permanent, the Attorney General will specify how long the status will be granted, which will be between 6 and 18 months. If the unsafe conditions still persist in the country after the protection period has expired, the Attorney General may renew the TPS period for another 6 to 18 months. After temporary protected status has expired, a Notice to Appear may be sent to foreign national applicants from the Department of Homeland Security for removal proceedings to begin.
On its own, TPS is not a pathway to Lawful Permanent Residence or other immigration statuses. Foreign nationals holding TPS will still be able to:
- Apply for other nonimmigrant statuses
- File to adjust status due to a current immigration petition
- Apply for immigration or protection benefits they are qualified to receive
TPS applications will not hinder or affect asylum applications. You are legally allowed to apply for both asylum and TPS statuses simultaneously if you meet the requirements. If you have been denied for asylum, it will not affect your eligibility or current application for TPS, although the circumstances that lead to your asylum denial may also lead to TPS denial.
Because of the temporary nature of TPS, you will need to consult the USCIS website to see which countries are designated for protected status currently. As of August 2017, these countries hold TPS designations: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen.
T VISAS FOR VICTIMS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING
The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA) was passed in October of 2000 by the U.S. House of Congress. A new visa, called the T-visa, was created by the act. This visa is meant for protection of victims of “severe forms of trafficking”. It extends to include victims of sex trafficking, which is defined specifically as the recruiting, harboring, or transporting of an individual for direct use in commercial sexual acts, such as prostitution. T-visas may also be granted to those recruited, harbored, and transported for involuntary servitude, labor services, debt bondage, or slavery through coercion, fraud, or force.
Candidates for the T-visa must demonstrate the following for eligibility:
- Evidence of having been a victim of a severe form of trafficking
- Presence in the United States as a result of the trafficking
- If over the age of 15 years old, compliance with reasonable requests for assistance during the investigation process or prosecution for acts of severe trafficking. Individuals under age 15 do not have to meet this requirement.
- The potential for extreme hardship, meaning severe or unusual harm, if the individual is removed from the U.S.
- Admissibility to the United States
Up to 5,000 T-visas are provided through the VTVPA annually. This act also states that trafficking victims detained in the United States should be held in appropriate housing facilities rather than correctional facilities. The DHS is required to provide all necessary medical care, as well as protection from the traffickers. Some public benefits are available to victims of severe forms of trafficking before a T-visa is obtained. The individuals need to be certified by the Office of Refugee Resettlement that they are “victims of a severe form of trafficking”. Individuals seeking asylum may also pursue T-visas.
The Law Office of Fady Eskandar can help you apply for a T-Visa if you think you meet the qualifications. Contact us today for a free consultation.
U VISAS FOR IMMIGRANT VICTIMS OF VIOLENT CRIME
The VTVPA created U-visas as well, which allow foreign nationals who are victims of specific crimes to stay in the United States temporarily. The intention of Congress in creating this visa was to protect victims of specific crimes and encourage them to step up to report crimes as well as to assist in ongoing investigations and prosecutions of those crimes.
Qualifying individuals are those who can show that they:
- Have suffered mental or physical abuse resulting from being a victim of the “qualifying criminal activity”.
- Possess reliable and credible information of details of the crime which qualifies them for the visa.
- Have already been helpful, are currently helping, or are likely to be helpful to the certifying agency involved in the investigation or the prosecution of those responsible for the qualifying crime.
- Are admissible to the U.S.
Criminal activities that qualify an individual for a U-visa must occur within the United States, within U.S. territories or possessions, or have violated U.S. Federal law providing for extraterritorial jurisdiction. INA § 101(a)(15)(U)(iii), 8 USC § 1101(a)(15)(U)(iii).
Any individuals filing for U-visas must also file a certified form from law enforcement officials that verifies the individual’s cooperation in the investigation of criminal activity.
Up to 10,000 U-visas can be granted per year. U-visas may last up to four years, although extensions are offered in some situations. INA §214(p)(6), 8 USC §1184(p)(6). When a U-visa is approved, the accepted applicant can obtain authorization for employment. If the applicant has held U-visa status for three continuous years, they may be able to adjust their status to a Lawful Permanent Resident. Adults who obtain a U-visa may apply for derivative benefits for their children under 21 and a spouse. Individuals who receive a U-visa while under the age of 18 may obtain U-visa status for their parents, children, spouse, or other siblings who are under age 18 at the time of filing.
It can be a complicated process to qualify and apply for U-visa status. We can help you determine if you qualify for a U-visa or not. Contact the Law Office of Fady Eskandar today for a free consultation.
VAWA: VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT
An amendment made to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has allowed battered spouses, parents, and children to file a petition for an immigrant visa. VAWA also permits certain spouses, parents, and children of U.S. citizens as well as certain spouses or children of lawful permanent residents to engage in filing a petition for themselves without the abuser being aware. This can play an important role since victims can now seek independence and safety from an abuser without the abuser being aware of the filing. Fady Eskandar, Anaheim Immigration Attorney, can help you with the filing process for this type of protection.
Individuals Who May File
- Spouse abused by a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident. This includes spouses who have not been abused themselves, but whose U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident spouse abused their children.
- Parents of U.S. citizens who have been abused by their U.S. citizen sons or daughters.
- Unmarried children under the age of 21, who have been abused by their U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident parents. If the abused children have children of their own, they may be included in the petition. Any abused children filing a petition themselves may still file between ages 21 and 25 if they are able to demonstrate that abuse from the same source caused the filing delay.
Eligibility Requirements for Filing Parties
You can find the specific requirements for eligibility of spouses, parents, and children below.
In the case of spousal abuse, a qualifying spousal relationship has to first be established. Qualifying relationships include:
- Marriage between the petitioner and the U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident abuser.
- Marriage terminated by death or abuse-related divorce, granted the relationship happened within 2 years of the petition being filed.
- A spouse who has renounced or lost U.S. citizenship or Lawful Permanent Residency status because of an incident of domestic violence within the 2 years preceding the filing of the petition.
- An abused spouse who was misguided to believe they were legally married to a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident when the marriage was actually illegitimate due to bigamy on the part of the abusive spouse.
Secondly, the spouse who wishes to petition must have suffered extreme cruelty or battery by their U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident spouse. Alternatively, a spouse may apply if their child or children have suffered extreme cruelty or battery by a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident spouse.
Thirdly, an abused spouse has to have engaged in the marriage in good faith, rather than for the purpose of procuring immigration benefits.
Fourthly, the spouse who has been abused must have resided with their U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident spouse.
Lastly, the filing spouse must be a person of “good moral character”.
Children must have a qualifying child/parent relationship to be allowed to file. This includes:
- Children of U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident abusers
- Children of U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident abusers who have lost citizenship or lawful residency due to an incident of domestic violence.
Secondly, the qualifying child must have suffered extreme cruelty or battery from the U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident parent.
Thirdly, the abused child must have been residing with the abusive parent.
Lastly, the child should be a person of “good moral character”. United States law designates all children of 13 years or less to be people of “good moral character”.
Parents must first qualify their parent/child relationship with their son or daughter. This includes:
- Parents of U.S. citizen children who are at least age 21 or older at the time of filing.
- Parents of U.S. citizen children who have lost or renounced their citizenship because of an incident of domestic violence.
- Parents of U.S. citizen children who were at least age 21 and died in the 2 years preceding the filer’s petition.
Secondly, the parent must have suffered from extreme cruelty or battery by the qualifying abusive U.S. citizen child.
Thirdly, the parent must have been residing with the abusive child.
Lastly, the parent must be shown to be a person of “good moral character”.
Anyone who intends to adjust their immigration status through the battered spouse, parent, or child provisions is required to file the I-360 document. It can be helpful to work with an attorney during this process, because of the complexity of the filing procedures. Anaheim Immigration Attorney Fady Eskandar has a wide understanding of U.S. immigration laws and can help you to file your I-360 as well as assist you with your battered spouse, child, or parent application process for a visa. Contact our law office today for a free consultation about your case.