How VAWA Turns Immigrant Victims into Survivors


The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) contains multiple provisions to discourage and punish violent crimes against noncitizen victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, sexual assault, and other crimes. U visas, T visas, VAWA cancelation of removal, and VAWA self-petition provide noncitizen victims with access to legal immigration status. They also offer an opportunity for noncitizen crime victims to obtain legal permanent residence and potential U.S. citizenship in the long run.

Forms of Immigration Relief Under VAWA

U Visas

Established under the VAWA of 2000, U visas protect some immigrant victims who help or are ready to help prosecutors investigate and prosecute a crime. A U visa allows the victim to live and work in the U.S. It may also lead to the dismissal of any lawsuit against the immigrant in the immigration court.

T Visas

These visas offer immigration relief to severe human trafficking victims. A T-visa recipient can live and work in the U.S. An eligible T-visa applicant can enjoy benefits, such as food support, cash support, and job training, which are usually available to refugees.

VAWA Cancelation of Removal

This immigration relief protects victims of abusive lawful permanent residents (LPR) and U.S.-citizen spouses from deportation. A noncitizen victim can request the immigration court for this relief after removal proceedings are initiated against him or her. Besides aggressively defending an immigrant facing removal due to a felony charge, a felony defense attorney can help the immigrant obtain a VAWA cancelation of removal.

VAWA Self-Petition

This immigrant relief allows immigrant victims of child abuse, domestic violence, or elder abuse to apply for LPR status without depending on the support of an abusive sponsor. A sponsor, in this case, refers to a parent, LPR or U.S.-citizen spouse, or adult child.

Noncitizen Victims & Injury Claims or Lawsuits

Any person injured because of someone else’s negligence has the right to file a personal injury claim, irrespective of his or her immigration status. Noncitizen crime victims can, therefore, pursue compensation for their injuries and damages by suing offenders.