Difference between U Visa and VAWA
Self-petitioning through VAWA. You can “self-petition” for lawful permanent residency for yourself and your children if you are married to a U.S. citizen or to a lawful permanent resident. “Self-petition” means you can ask for it by yourself, without your spouse’s help, but you do need a lawyer to help you.
Cancellation of removal through VAWA. If you are married to a U.S. citizen or to a lawful permanent resident and have been in the U.S. for at least three years, you can ask for your deportation to be suspended and for lawful permanent residency without the help of your spouse. If you are at risk of being deported, please talk to an immigration expert about this option.
Under a U-visa, you can obtain a temporary visa if you have suffered physical or mental injury from a crime, and you have been, are, or will be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of that crime. To qualify for this visa, you must participate in a criminal investigation or prosecution. Officially, “U non-immigrant, humanitarian, material witness visas” include a provision so that you can get lawful permanent residency after 3 years. This is available even if you have never been married to your abuser or if your abuser is not a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.
To learn more please go to www.womenslaw.org/immigrantsUvisa.htm#35.
There are two types of visas: immigrant and non-immigrant. Non-immigrant visas are primarily issued to tourists and temporary business visitors. Immigrant visas permit their holders to stay in the United States permanently and ultimately to apply for citizenship. An alien who has an immigrant visa is permitted to work in the United States.
The following immigration options may be available in certain situations:
- Asylum is a form of protection that allows individuals who are in the United States to remain here, provided that they meet the definition of a refugee and are not barred from either applying for or being granted asylum. Asylees may eventually adjust their status to lawful permanent resident. For the legal definition of a refugee, please click here;
- Special immigrant juvenile LPR status (SIJS) for undocumented children found to be dependent on a juvenile court;
- Non-immigrant visas for victims of severe forms of trafficking in persons. It includes a provision for adjustment to lawful permanent residency after 3 years; and,
- For abused conditional permanent residents [based upon I-130 filed by spouse], INS § 216 waiver of requirement of joint petition to remove the condition.
The options listed above are complicated, but they might be helpful for your situation. If you are interested in any of these, please talk to an immigration expert.