Asylum, VAWA, U & T visas

Asylum, VAWA, U & T visas

Hardship-Based Immigration

The U.S. government offers several different types of immigration relief to immigrants who have suffered extreme hardship in the United States or in their country of origin. An immigrant’s individual circumstances determine which form(s) of relief they may be eligible to apply for. Petitions for different types of relief go through different processes, which may take different lengths of time. We represent clients in many different forms of hardship-based immigration.


Asylum is available for people who have come to the United States seeking protection from persecution due to race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. A person may be eligible for asylum if they are afraid to return to their country because they were persecuted because of who they are and they fear being harmed if they go back. Applicants must be unwilling or unable to return to their country of origin.

Affirmative asylum

Affirmative asylum is a petition for asylum with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This process is available to asylum applicants who are not in removal proceedings. Asylum is decided by an asylum officer at a USCIS Asylum Office after interviewing the applicant.

Defensive asylum

Defensive asylum is a petition for asylum with the Immigration Court. This process is available to asylum applicants who are in removal proceedings. Asylum is decided by a judge at the applicant’s local Immigration Court after presiding over their trial.

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) is a form of immigration relief available to children who have suffered neglect, abuse, or abandonment by one or both parents. The first part of the process is to obtain a factual order from the applicant’s local probate and family court, which the minor can then use to apply for a visa. Once the applicant is approved for a visa, they wait for a spot on the visa bulletin to become available in order to apply for permanent residency. This process is available to unmarried children under 21 in the custody of the state or a guardian other than the offending parent(s) whom a family court judge determines to be better off in the U.S. instead of reunited with the offending parent(s).

T Visa

A T visa is a petition for a nonimmigrant visa for immigrant victims of human trafficking in the U.S. It allows victims to seek shelter and start over in the U.S. This process is available to current and former victims of trafficking currently in the U.S. or its territories who comply with any reasonable request from a law enforcement agency for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking and shows that they would suffer extreme hardship if removed from the U.S.

Qualifying Crimes

  • Abduction
  • Abusive sexual contact
  • Blackmail
  • Domestic violence
  • Extortion
  • False imprisonment
  • Female genital mutilation
  • Felonious assault
  • Fraud in foreign labor contracting
  • Hostage
  • Incest
  • Involuntary servitude
  • Kidnapping
  • Murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Obstruction of justice
  • Peonage
  • Perjury
  • Prostitution
  • Rape
  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Slave trade
  • Stalking
  • Torture
  • Trafficking
  • Witness tampering
  • Unlawful criminal restraint
  • Other related crimes

These qualifying crimes also include attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of these and other related crimes.

Violence Against Women Act Visa

A Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) visa is a petition for an immigrant visa for certain victims of domestic violence. It enables victims to apply for permanent residency without their abuser knowing, allowing victims to find safety and independence from their abuser. This process is available to immigrant victims of domestic violence at the hands of U.S. citizens or permanent residents, as well as their unmarried children under 21. Victims must be the spouse, parent, or child of a U.S. citizen or the spouse or child of a legal permanent resident.

Cancellation of Removal

Cancellation of Removal is a form of relief available only to immigrants in removal proceedings who can demonstrate that they have been in the U.S. for a certain period of time, have good moral character, and their removal would cause extreme hardship to an immediate relative who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If successful, the applicant is granted lawful permanent status.