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Raleigh, NC Immigration Lawyers for Victims of Crimes and Domestic Violence

Johnston County VAWA Immigration Lawyers

Attorneys in Charlotte and Smithfield Helping Foreign Nationals Affected By Domestic Abuse and Other Crimes

When a person has been victimized by domestic violence or has suffered as the victim of any other crime, it can be overwhelmingly difficult to come forward and help law enforcement officials catch and prosecute the offender. This is especially true for individuals who might have entered the U.S. illegally or who have stayed here despite having an expired visa. Without legal status in the United States, a victim may be afraid of his or her own prosecution, and thus, be extremely hesitant to report the crime committed against him or her.

The good news is that there are avenues for seeking help. At the Vasquez Law Firm, PLLC, we know that two important pieces of legislation have been passed in the last few decades to allow crime and domestic abuse victims to stay in the United States, not only for safety reasons but also to cooperate with law enforcement and prosecutors in bringing the perpetrators to justice. With this in mind, our lawyers help victims seek U visas, as well as protection under the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA).

What Is the VAWA?

In 1994, the federal government enacted the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) as a measure to assist domestic abuse victims, including in situations that involve immigration concerns. Under the VAWA, victims of domestic violence—even if they do not have legal immigration status—to remain in the U.S. so they can seek help.

Most types of family-related immigrant visas require a foreign citizen to have a sponsor in the U.S who is either a legal American citizen or a lawful permanent resident (green card holder). Unfortunately, for many would-be immigrants, the only person they know who could be an eligible sponsor is abusing them. With this in mind, the VAWA created a process for domestic violence victims to pursue lawful permanent resident status without a sponsor. Despite being called the Violence Against Women Act, the provisions of the law also apply to male domestic violence victims.

At the Vasquez Law Firm, PLLC, we can help you apply for a green card if you are the victim of abuse committed by:

  • Your spouse or ex-spouse who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
  • Your parent who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
  • Your child who is a U.S. citizen

If you have already secured a divorce from your abuser, you can still apply under the VAWA, but your petition must be filed within two years of your divorce. Our compassionate lawyers will meet with you to discuss your available options and help you take action quickly.

Smithfield Counsel for Victims of Other Crimes

While the VAWA is focused on offering domestic violence victims safety and security, there is another option for crime victims who are willing to participate in the prosecution of the perpetrator(s). In 2000, the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act was enacted, and it established a U non-immigrant visa and legal status. The U visa gives a crime victim the ability to remain in the U.S. temporarily to help prosecutors bring criminals to justice.

Under the law, a limited number of U visas are granted per year. These visas are available to victims who have suffered serious physical or mental harm caused by qualifying criminal offenses, including:

  • False imprisonment
  • Kidnapping or abduction
  • Domestic violence
  • Labor fraud
  • Sexual assault and rape
  • Felony assault
  • Prostitution
  • Human trafficking

To qualify for a U visa, the crime must have occurred in the U.S. or, if it took place abroad, it must have broken American laws—such as those pertaining to sexual assault or human trafficking. In addition, the victim must have details about the case that are likely to help build a case against the person who committed the crime. Lastly, the victim must contact the police or other law enforcement officials and continue cooperating with the investigation and prosecution. The victim's cooperation must be certified by law enforcement or prosecutors in order for the U visa to be considered.

If approved, a U visa allows a victim to remain in the United States for four years. Extensions are possible depending on how the criminal case is proceeding. After three years of being in the U.S. continuously, a U visa holder can apply for an adjustment of status to get his or her green card.

Get the Help You Need Today

To learn more about immigration options available to domestic violence and crime victims, contact our office. Call 1-844-YO-PELEO or 919-989-3000 for a free, confidential consultation at the Vasquez Law Firm, PLLC today. We help victims and their families in Wake County, Johnston County, Mecklenburg County, and the surrounding areas. Hablamos Espanol.

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