People who are living in the United States hoping someday to become permanent residents or even citizens often feel vulnerable as they move through the process. This vulnerability can make them easy targets for criminals and abusers. Some immigrants who have been the victims of crimes, or who are currently the victims of ongoing crimes may feel fearful about coming forth and reporting the crime, or seeking any assistance.

You might be afraid to report the crimes against you because you think you need your spouse to apply for immigration benefits on your behalf. However, there is hope for you in the form of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).  In order to qualify for protection under VAWA, you must be able to provide evidence of the following:

  • Your current or former relationship with the abuser (They can be a spouse, parent or child)
  • You lived with the abuser
  • You are of good moral character
  • You are a victim of extreme cruelty by the abuser

To apply you must complete an I-360 application and pay the required fee.

The U Visa for victims of crime

The U.S. government created the U Visa in order to provide protection for victims of qualifying crimes within the U.S., its territories and possessions and on military installations. An important aspect of the U Visa is that you must be willing and able to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity of which you were a victim. Ask an immigration lawyer for a list of the qualifying crimes for the VAWA. 

What can a U Visa do for me?

You do not need to be present in the US when you apply for the U Visa. If the USCIS grants a U Visa, you may be eligible to apply for permanent residency. The time for the government can vary for form I-918, but an immigration lawyer can tell you the general timeframes for processing.

Has being the victim of a crime made you fearful of reporting the incident because you are afraid of how it might impact your dreams of becoming a citizen? If you are undocumented or out of status, you can still get protection from law enforcement if you are a victim of one of a qualifying crime. A skilled Nashville criminal defense attorney who has experience in immigration law will meet with you to discuss your options. You do not have to live in fear. Give us a call. We can help.

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