New Jersey Naturalization

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 contained provisions helping petitioners of U nonimmigrant status.

In 2013, Congress passed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, which, generally, gave expanded protection to domestic violence victims, most notably those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and Native American.

VAWA 2013 provisions regarding immigration

However, VAWA 2013 also provides additional protections for battered immigrants, including granting the status of "surviving relative consideration" to children of deceased VAWA self-petitioners; exempting VAWA self-petitioners and U visa applicants from being found inadmissible as a public charge if they utilized public benefits; and extending hardship waivers where the underlying marriage was invalid due to the abusive spouse's bigamy.

U.S.CIS Policy Memorandum

An interim policy memo dated June 27, 2014, posted for comment until August 8, 2014, and effective until further notice, provides assistance on the effect of VAWA 2013 on U nonimmigrant status programs and the adjustment of status applications.

New crimes added

To qualify as an U nonimmigrant, the alien must have undergone substantial mental or physical abuse because of being a victim of listed crimes. VAWA 2013 added two crimes to the original list for eligibility U nonimmigrant status: fraud in foreign labor contract and stalking.

Aging out

The VAWA 2013 changes existing law by providing that the age of petitioners for U nonimmigrant status is established as of the filing date of Form I-918, and remains that date. Thus, any derivative petitioner will remain a "child" even though the derivative petitioner turns 21 while the petition is pending.

Further, if the principal petitioner is under 21 when the petition is properly filed, unmarried siblings and parents under 18 will be accepted as qualifying family members as derivative U nonimmigrants even though at the time of adjudication of the petition the unmarried sibling is over 18 and the petitioner is over 21.

These provisions are retroactive.

Exemption for public charges

While, generally, any alien who seeks a visa or an adjustment of status and is likely to become a public charge is inadmissible, the VAWA 2013 states that inadmissibility on the grounds of public charge is inapplicable to those seeking (or who have been granted) U nonimmigrant (or derivative U nonimmigrant) status.

Federal foster care

Principal and derivative U nonimmigrant children are available for federal foster care placement pursuant to VAWA 2013 under the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program. Eligible children have to apply with Health and Human Services and be placed prior to turning 18.

Immigration and naturalization law is an ever-changing and complicated area of the law. If you find yourself in questionable circumstances, you should contact an attorney knowledgeable with the ins and outs of immigration law in order to decide how best to proceed under the circumstances in your particular case.

Keywords: battered immigrants, Violence Against Women Act, foster care, immigration, domestic violence