April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides long-term immigration protections to child victims of human trafficking, abuse and neglect, including Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) classification, T visa, U visa and VAWA protection.
USCIS helps protect child victims of human trafficking and other crimes by providing immigration relief to eligible victims and encourages victims to come forward and work with law enforcement and other certifying agencies.
Special Immigrant Juvenile Visa (SIJV)
SIJ status is for minors (children and some young adults) who are in the United States and can prove they have been abused, abandoned or neglected by a parent, and want to apply for a green card. The special immigrant juvenile program was created in 1990 so that immigrants under 21 can apply for permanent residency in the United States if a state court determines that they need protection, and that returning to their home countries would be unsafe. Since 2010, more than 130,000 applications have been approved.
T visas are meant for individuals who either have been or are actively being victimized by sex or labor trafficking. To become eligible for this visa, the immigrant must currently be located within the United States, certain American territories, or at a U.S. port of entry. Additionally, applicants must be able to demonstrate not only that he or she experienced severe trafficking, but also that his or her deportation would cause “extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm.”
The U visa is for victims of certain qualifying criminal activities, including child victims of human trafficking. The U Visa protects victims of serious offenses from further mistreatment. It is reserved for victims of certain crimes who have suffered physical or mental abuse and assists law enforcement agencies. This visa also assists government officials in investigating and prosecuting the crimes. U visas allow immigrants who are victims of crimes to live and work in the US for 4 years or more. These crimes can include domestic violence or sex crimes. After three years of living in the US, a U visa holder and their immediate family can apply for green cards.
Violence Against Women Act VAWA
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) allows people who have been abused by a family member to ‘self-petition’ for their own lawful permanent residency application under an adjustment of status (AOS), called a VAWA self-petitioner. Although the act name refers to women, it applies to abused males and females.
Minor VAWA applicants must provide proof of abuse by a parent or legal guardian.
Do you have questions about qualifying for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status or do you need to talk to a juvenile immigration lawyer? Contact the experienced immigration lawyers at Godoy Law Office at 630-912-0322.