It is often rumored that immigrants who report crimes are likely to face deportation, but this is not true in all circumstances. United States law provides protective measures for immigrants who have suffered as victims of crimes. These protections apply to both legal immigrants and undocumented immigrants.
In addition, the law provides further protections for immigrants who have endured domestic violence, human trafficking, and certain other crimes. Immigrant victims of crimes in Lombard should consult with a skilled visa lawyer for assistance with protecting their rights.
Self-Petitioning for a Green Card in Lombard
Immigrants to the United States sometimes remain in abusive relationships because they believe that they need the assistance of an abusive family member in order to apply for or receive immigration benefits. However, one of the provisions of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) enables spouses and children of abuse and lawful permanent residents (LPR) to apply for an immigrant visa without the aid of the abusive family member.
Victims of domestic violence crimes may self-petition for such a visa by filing Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant. Those applying should be prepared to demonstrate they:
- Were the parent, child, or qualifying domestic partner of the abusive citizen or LPR
- Live or formerly lived with the abusive citizen or LPR
- Are of good moral character
- Suffered as victims of extreme cruelty or battery
The provisions of VAWA periodically expire, but Congress has reauthorized the protections several times in the past and is expected to continue doing so.
U Visa Eligibility
Even if they do not have legal status in the United States, immigrants may be able to obtain a U non-immigrant visa that provides certain protections to those victimized by crime. This type of visa is available to those who suffered substantial abuse—physical or mental—as the result of certain criminal activity that violates federal law, such as sexual assault, kidnapping, prostitution or domestic violence.
To obtain a U visa in Lombard, an immigrant applicant must possess some reliable information about criminal activity which occurred in the United States, and he or she must have the potential to assist in the investigation or prosecution of those crimes. The applicant must also obtain a certification from law enforcement officials, but it will be the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services who decides whether to grant a U visa.
Protection for Victims of Human Trafficking
Similar to a U visa, a T non-immigrant visa may be available to protect those who suffered from human trafficking. The T Visa allows human trafficking victims to stay in the U.S. for up to four years to assist in the prosecution of their traffickers. After the T Visa is granted to a victim, he or she could then apply for permanent residence after three years.
To benefit from the protections of a T visa, a victim does not need legal immigration status, but he or she must be physically present in the U.S. because of human trafficking of a severe nature. Unless they are under the age of 18, he or she must also assist with investigation or prosecution as appropriate. Finally, he or she must also demonstrate that extreme hardship involving severe harm would result if he or she were to be removed from the U.S.
How an Attorney Could Help if You Were a Victim of a Crime
Although healthcare providers and law enforcement officials may be the first to see signs of violent criminal behavior and are trained to offer assistance to immigrants, many immigrants remain fearful of the consequences if they approach police or other first responders. However, immigrants who are victims of crimes should be aware that legal protections are available to help them without raising the risk of deportation.
A dedicated immigration attorney who understands the need to protect rights and the concerns of both legal and undocumented immigrants may be able to provide advice and advocate on behalf of a victim in both criminal and civil proceedings. Call today to see what may be possible in your case.