Immigration Under The Violence Against Women Act
In November 2000, the Violence Against Women Act II was passed into law. Among other things, this law made changes to previously existing immigration laws that had allowed abused immigrant women and children to seek legal residency in the US independently of their abusers.
What does the Violence Against Women Act II do?
To be eligible for adjustment of status under the VAWA II, the woman must show one of the following:
What is the difference between VAWA applicants and other visa applicants?
The VAWA II also created a new category of nonimmigrant visa. To be eligible for this “U” visa, the applicant must have suffered “substantial physical or mental abuse” because of a variety of crimes, including domestic abuse and involuntary servitude. The applicant must have information relating to this crime that would be of assistance to law enforcement in investigating or prosecuting it. There is an annual limit of 10,000 U visas. U visa holders are work authorized, and are able to apply for adjustment of status after three years.
One of the eligibility requirements is that a self-petitioner must demonstrate that he/she is a person of good moral character. A VAWA-based self-petition will be denied or revoked if the record contains evidence to establish that the self-petitioner lacks good moral character. The inquiry into good moral character focuses on the three years immediately preceding the filing of the self-petition, but the adjudicating officer may investigate the self-petitioner’s character beyond the three-year period when there is reason to believe that the self- petitioner may not have been a person of good moral character during that time. A self-petitioner’s claim of good moral character will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis taking into account the provisions of section 101(f) of the Act and the standards of the average citizen in the community.
Gregory Siskind is a partner in Siskind Susser's Memphis, Tennessee, office. After graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, he received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago. Mr. Siskind is a member of AILA, a board member of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and a member of the ABA, where he serves on the LPM Publishing Board as Marketing Vice Chairman. He is the author of several books, including the J Visa Guidebook and The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet. Mr. Siskind practices all areas of immigration law, specializing in immigration matters of the health care and technology industries. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.
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