In the area of American immigration law, there is one. Series of measures to protect victims of crimes and domestic violence. This article explores two important avenues available for this type of gender-based violence: the U Visa and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

As an experienced criminal defense and immigration attorney with an office based in New York and New Jersey, I have witnessed firsthand the impact of this legislation on the lives of my clients.

In this article, I want to delve into the details of these legal protection programs for victims of domestic or gender violence, providing clear definitions, concise explanations, and references to specific laws as well as relevant regulations that may be of interest to you.

Needless to say, I am here to help in any way possible in this type of matter. It is not a pleasant situation, and this sense all help can be helpful.

Understanding the Basics

Citizenship and Green Card

Before diving into the U Visa and VAWA, it’s crucial to grasp some foundational concepts. Citizenship is the highest form of immigration status in the United States. It grants individuals the right to live and work permanently in the country, as well as to vote and access various government benefits. A Green Card, formally known as a Permanent Resident Card, signifies lawful permanent residency and is one step below citizenship. Holders of Green Cards can live and work in the U.S. indefinitely.

U Visa: Relief for Crime Victims

The U Visa is a valuable relief mechanism for individuals who have been victims of certain crimes while in the United States and have suffered mental or physical abuse as a result. This visa provides temporary legal status and protection from deportation for victims who cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.

Eligibility for U Visa

To be eligible for a U Visa, individuals must meet specific criteria, including:

  1. Being a victim of a qualifying criminal activity.
  2. Suffering substantial physical or mental abuse due to the crime.
  3. Having information about the crime and being willing to assist law enforcement.

VAWA: Protection for Domestic Violence Survivors

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), on the other hand, addresses the plight of survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, or certain other abuses perpetrated by a U.S. citizen or permanent resident family member. Under VAWA, victims can self-petition for lawful permanent residency without relying on their abusive family member’s sponsorship.

VAWA Eligibility and Process

The eligibility criteria for VAWA self-petitioners include:

  1. Marriage to a U.S. citizen or Green Card holder who subjected them to abuse.
  2. Good moral character.
  3. Residence with the abusive family member.

Legal References and Abbreviations

It’s crucial to refer to specific legal references and abbreviations when discussing immigration relief options:

  • U.S.C. § 1101(a)(15)(U): The section of the United States Code (U.S.C.) that outlines U Visa eligibility.
  • VAWA is the commonly used abbreviation for the Violence Against Women Act.
  • I-918 Form: The U Visa application form.
  • I-360 Form: The VAWA self-petition form.


In conclusion, the U Visa and VAWA are vital tools in protecting victims of crime and domestic violence within the U.S. immigration system. These provisions provide relief, legal status, and hope for those who have endured hardship and abuse. Understanding the eligibility criteria, application processes, and legal references is essential for those seeking assistance through these programs. As an attorney with experience in immigration and criminal defense matters, I have seen the profound impact that these protections can have on individuals and their families. If you or someone you know may qualify for the U Visa or VAWA relief, seeking legal counsel is a crucial step towards securing safety and stability in the United States.

  1. 212(c) Waiver Lawyer
  2. Criminal and Immigration Attorney
  3. Aggravated Assault
  4. Asylum Lawyer
  5. Burglary Defense Lawyer
  6. Cancellation of Removal
  7. Criminal Defense Lawyer
  8. Cyber Crime Defense
  9. Deportation Defense
  10. Domestic Violence
  11. Drug Crimes
  12. Federal Immigration Crimes
  13. I-601 Waiver
  14. Immigration Appeals
  15. Immigration Bond
  16. Immigration Fraud Defense
  17. Motion 440.10 New York
  18. Motion to Change Venue
  19. Motion to Reopen
  20. Prosecutorial Discretion
  21. Reentry After Deportation
  22. Robbery
  23. S Visa
  24. Stay of Deportation Lawyer
  25. Theft Offenses
  26. U Visa Lawyer
  27. Writ Coram Nobis
  28. Writ Habeas Corpus
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  3. The Legal Threshold of Second-Degree Aggravated Assault and Its Immigration Effects