In our current political climate, where immigration benefits and the process of obtaining a green card seem to grow more challenging each day, it is important to consult with an Austin or Texas immigration attorney to explore the often-overlooked paths to permanent residence for victims of certain offenses.
U Visa – Immigration Relief for Survivors of Domestic Violence and Other Crimes
Immigrant victims of certain crimes who have been helpful in a criminal investigation or prosecution may qualify for a visa that can lead to a green card.
Green Card as a Battered Spouse or Child
VAWA (The Violence Against Women Act) allows an abused spouse or child of a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident or an abused parent of a U.S. Citizen to self-petition for lawful status in the United States, receive employment authorization, and access public benefits.
In cases of abuse or extreme mental cruelty, the U.S. citizen/LPR spouse or parent may refuse to assist his or her spouse or child in obtaining a green card. In such cases, the spouse or child who has been abused may independently file a petition with USCIS, known as an I-360 self-petition. Abused spouses may also include their children and abused children may also include their non-abusive parent on the petition.
Individuals may file a self-petition up to two (2) years after divorce from the U.S. citizen or LPR spouse. If the I-360 petition is approved, individuals may immediately qualify for a green card if they are an immediate relative or if a visa number is currently available. As an approved self-petitioner, they will qualify to file for a green card here in the U.S. even if they entered the U.S. without permission.
T Visa – Immigration Relief for Survivors of Sex or Labor Trafficking
Human trafficking survivors may be eligible for lawful status, employment authorization, and a potential path to permanent residency, but they are a unique population with diverse and resource-intensive needs.
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