Removing Conditions as a “Battered Spouse”
Green cards issued to noncitizen spouses whose marriages are younger than 2 years are “conditional,” meaning that they expire after only 2 years versus the typical 10-year validity period. Conditions must be “removed” through another intense immigration process meant to flag cases of marriage fraud. However, there are situations where a marriage can become abusive in the intervening 2 years.
The ”battered spouse waiver” allows noncitizens with conditional green cards to remove conditions without the cooperation of their abusive spouse. The goal is to prevent situations where a noncitizen spouse feels forced to remain in a dangerous marriage in order to guarantee their lawful permanent residency. The waiver is generally granted if the noncitizen spouse can prove that abuse or cruelty has occurred and that the marriage was initially entered in good faith.
U Visas for Victims of Violent Crimes
U visas were created to assist law enforcement in the investigation of certain types of serious and violent crimes. U visas can be granted to noncitizens who have suffered physical, mental, or emotional abuse as a result of a violent crime. The visa entitles them to remain in the United States while the underlying crime is investigated. The beneficiary will be expected to cooperate with law enforcement and provide any pertinent information.
U visas can typically remain valid for as many as 4 years but can be extended even longer if law enforcement deems it necessary to aid in the investigation. Crucially, U visa holders are able to pursue lawful permanent residency once they have maintained at least 3 years of continuous presence in the United States and meet other requirements. Up to 10,000 U visas can be issued annually, but there is no limit on green cards for U visa beneficiaries.
In order to obtain a U visa, you must:
- Have suffered physical, mental, or emotional abuse as a result of your being the victim of a qualifying crime
- Have information about the crime
- Be helpful or be willing to be helpful to the law enforcement agency investigating the crime
- Obtain a certification from an individual or body participating in the investigation
- Be otherwise admissible to the United States or qualify for a waiver of inadmissibility
Our Orlando VAWA attorneys can help you pursue a U visa if you have been the victim of a serious crime. U visas often allow for immediate, dependent relatives to remain in the United States with you, and our team can work to ensure your family stays together throughout any criminal investigation.
T Visas for Victims of Human Trafficking
Noncitizens exploited for purposes of commercial sex trafficking or involuntary servitude can receive immigration relief through T visas. The visa grants deferred action as well as work authorization, and many recipients also qualify for the same additional benefits as refugees, which include government benefits and employment support. As many as 5,000 T visas can be granted each year.
T visas are valid for up to 4 years but in some situations can be extended. T visa beneficiaries qualify for lawful permanent residency once they have maintained 3 years of continuous presence in the U.S. or when the investigation of their associated trafficking operation has concluded, whichever is shorter. In order to successfully obtain a green card through a T visa, recipients will need to cooperate with law enforcement throughout the investigation and generally demonstrate good moral character.
To obtain a T visa, you must:
- Have been the victim of a “severe” form of trafficking (typically commercial sex trafficking or involuntary servitude)
- Have become physically present in the United States as a result of that trafficking
- Assist or be willing to assist law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of the criminals involved in the trafficking if you at least 18 years of age
- Demonstrate that you will experience extreme hardship if you are removed from the U.S.
Using VAWA “Cancellations of Removal”
VAWA extends some deportation protections to noncitizens who have been abused by U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. “Cancellation of removal” can be pursued as a defense in removal proceedings and will involve proving the existence and extent of the abuse. In order to qualify, noncitizens will need to also demonstrate good moral character and that their deportation would confer extreme hardship.
Our Orlando VAWA lawyers at Angel Law Firm, PL can assist you in pursuing cancellations of removal if you have been placed in removal proceedings. We are compassionate to the uncertainty you are experiencing, and our team will explore every possible legal solution that keeps you and your family together in the United States.