U visas and VAWA petitions are different in many ways. If you have been the victim of a crime, determining which avenue is best for you can be complicated. You may want to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to determine which immigration path is right for you.
U visas have an annual 10,000 visa cap. VAWA petitions have no cap. This means that a U visa applicant may have to wait until the following year if the cap has been met.
After your U visa application is approved, you may be placed on a waitlist for several years before the visa is actually available. This is due to the 10,000 visa cap. After receiving your U visa, you will then have to wait three (3) years before applying for a green card. The approval process for a VAWA petition can range from several months to two years. You can file for a green card at the same time you file your VAWA petition.
VAWA allows battered and abused spouses and children to obtain a green card without the help of a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident relative who is abusing them. You may qualify if your spouse is a citizen or legal resident and abused you or your child. In addition, if you were abused by your parent or child who was a citizen or legal resident, then you may qualify.
U visas were designed for immigrant crime victims who have sustained a physical or mental injury and are helpful to law enforcement. Applicants must have sustained a serious mental or physical injury and will have to cooperate with authorities so they can investigate and prosecute the abuser. A U visa applicant must obtain a “Certificate of Helpfulness” from a law enforcement official. VAWA applicants are not required to file a police report and/or assist the authorities in the prosecution of the crime against their loved one.
You must demonstrate good moral character in order for your VAWA petition to be approved. A U visa requires only that you not be inadmissible to the United States and does not require an affirmative showing of good character.
Regardless of which avenue you choose, you will need to put together a successful application. The attorneys at Serving Immigrants can help you explore your options. Contact us online or call us at (305) 907-6151 to schedule a strategy session.