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):

  • Abduction
  • Being held hostage
  • Domestic violence
  • False imprisonment
  • Female genital mutilation
  • Involuntary servitude
  • Kidnapping
  • Murder
  • Prostitution
  • Rape/Sexual assault or sexual exploitation
  • Torture
  • Trafficking
  • 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 be granted.

Benefits of the U Visa

U visa benefits are important because they provide eligible victims of a crime many benefits including:

  • Nonimmigrant status for a period of four years: this allows you to temporarily remain in the U.S., usually for up to 4 years.
  • Eligibility 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.
  • 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 online or at (512) 488-3970 today.

Self Petitions Under VAWA

Under VAWA, you may submit a petition on your own for lawful permanent residency if you are a noncitizen victim of domestic violence. This can be done even if you are divorced and the divorce took place within two years of filing your petition. You will also be granted work authorization. You will have to demonstrate your eligibility to USCIS to be granted a green card.

T Visas

T visas are for victims who have sustained severe types of human trafficking. This trafficking can be sex trafficking for those under the age of 18 or for those forced into commercial sex by force, fraud, or coercion. These visas are also for victims of involuntary servitude or slavery who were also forced into these crimes through force, coercion, or fraud. The T visa gives you permission to work. You may also be given access to cash and food assistance as well as job training. T visas last up to 4 years.

Hablamos Español

Our team is fluent in Spanish. We want you to understand every step of your case. We will make sure that nothing is lost in translation.

Let Us Help You & Your Loved Ones With Your Immigration Case

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