Specialty Visas

Specialty Visas – T Visas & U Visas - Erin J. Lee

Not everyone is going to qualify to immigrate to the U.S. under the common methods like marriage, or a job. For those that don’t fit squarely into one of those categories, you may want to explore some other categories or specialty visas that may apply.

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a powerful tool for battered spouses, children, or parents of certain U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents to obtain their permanent residency. Generally, in order to obtain permanent residency, one has to be petitioned by a family member or employer. With the advent of VAWA, battered spouses, children or parents can file their own petition for permanent residency in the U.S without a separate petitioner. The abuser does not need to be involved with this process whatsoever. This benefit applies to abused women and men, equally.

There is also what is called a T visa. To be eligible for a T visa, you must be:

  1. A victim of trafficking
  2. Be in the U.S., or a port of entry due to trafficking
  3. Comply with law enforcement agency for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking
  4. Demonstrate that you would suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm if you were removed from the U.S.
  5. Are admissible to the U.S.

Each element of this visa must be met to be granted a T visa. So, for example, if you are inadmissible to the U.S. for a criminal conviction, then you would not qualify for a T visa, unless a waiver is filed and granted by USCIS.

Another visa is called a U visa. The U visa requires:

  1. The victim to have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse as a result of being a victim of a qualifying criminal activity;
  2. The victim to have information concerning that criminal activity;
  3. The victim to have been, is being, or will likely be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the case;
  4. That the criminal activity have violated U.S. laws. A person is not a victim if he or she is culpable for any of the criminal activity.

There are some niche categories of immigration you may not know, so contact a knowledgeable attorney to inquire if you may qualify.

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