Austin U Visa/VAWA Lawyer
Working on Behalf of Noncitizen Women in Texas & Beyond
According to the American Immigration Council, about 23 million immigrant
women and girls reside in our country, making up more than half of the
foreign-born population. These are women who have often been exposed to
domestic violence, sexual violence, and other forms of exploitation which
may occur due to the vulnerability of their noncitizen or illegal status.
Under U.S. law, victims of abuse or certain other crimes may qualify for
VAWA or the U Visa.
If you need legal advice regarding these types of immigration benefits
in Austin or anywhere else through Texas, the U.S. or world, you can turn
to Zavala Law, PLLC. Our Austin U Visa/VAWA attorney has deep experience
in handling such cases. Our firm provides thorough, informative, and compassionate
legal services dedicated to fighting for your rights. We offer legal services
in Spanish as well as Portuguese and offer payment plans to help ease
your way through the U.S. immigration system.
Need legal help with a visa under VAWA? Contact Zavala Law, PLLC
online or at
(512) 488-3970 for diligent legal guidance.
What Is the U Visa for Victims of Crime?
The U visa was created with bipartisan support under the reauthorization
of the Violence Against Women Acts (VAWA) in 2000 to protect immigrant
victims of serious crimes and to encourage these individuals to report
these crimes. As a victim, you can assist in the investigation and prosecution
of the crime regardless of your immigration status.
Crime victims who can qualify for a U visa include those who are currently
assisting or have assisted in the past or those who will be able to assist
in the investigation or prosecution of the crime in the future. To apply
for a U visa, a certification from a law enforcement or investigative
agency is required that attests to your assistance in the investigation
or prosecution of a qualifying crime.
What Crimes Qualify for U Visa Applications?
Many types of criminal activity qualify you for the purpose of eligibility
for a U visa under immigration law.
Examples of qualifying crimes include (but are not limited to):
- Being held hostage
- Domestic violence
- False imprisonment
- Female genital mutilation
- Involuntary servitude
- Rape/Sexual assault or sexual exploitation
- Unlawful restraint
Similar crimes and even attempted crimes such as conspiracy to commit,
or solicitation to commit could also be listed as criminal activity that
qualifies a victim for U visa eligibility. Any local, state, or federal
law enforcement officer as well as judges and prosecutors can certify
you for U visa eligibility. Merely being certified as being eligible for
a U visa does not automatically grant you this immigration benefit. The
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will examine all of
the evidence and the certification to determine whether your U Visa should
Benefits of the U Visa
U visa benefits are important because they provide eligible victims of
a crime with nonimmigrant status for a period of four years. This allows
you to temporarily remain in the U.S., usually for up to 4 years. As a
recipient of the U visa, you are also eligible for a work authorization.
If certain conditions are met, you may also then be eligible to adjust
your status to that of a lawful permanent resident (green card holder)
after three years. In addition, certain members of your family may also
be eligible to live and work in the U.S. as “derivative” recipients
of the U visa due to their relationship to you.
Applying for the U Visa
In order to apply for the U visa, it is not necessary for you as the victim
to be related to the perpetrator of the crime. Nor is the immigration
status of the perpetrator relevant to your eligibility. The perpetrator
does not need to have legal status. This is different from VAWA self-petitions
which are limited to immigrant victims who are married to abusive spouses
that are U.S. citizens or Legal Permanent Residents.
Want to discuss your legal rights under U.S. immigration as a victim of
a crime or an abused spouse? Contact us at
(512) 488-3970 today.