How Children of Foreign National Domestic Violence Victims Can Obtain Immigration Status
Foreign nationals who have suffered from domestic violence in the U.S. may have multiple paths to getting legal status in this country. They might apply for a U visa, file a VAWA petition for a marriage-based green card, or even seek asylum. Foreign nationals often wonder which of these options makes sense for them. If they have children and want to bring them to the U.S., this factor may play a role in their decision.
A U visa gives temporary status to foreign nationals who are victims of serious crimes so that they can help law enforcement catch and prosecute the perpetrators of the crimes. It can open the door to permanent status eventually. A VAWA petition allows a foreign national who has been abused by a U.S. citizen spouse, or a spouse who has a green card, to petition for a green card on their own instead of relying on their spouse to assist with the petition. Asylum is a more extreme option that can allow a victim of domestic violence in their home country to stay in the U.S. if law enforcement in their home country failed to protect them from the domestic violence. Asylum status can ultimately serve as a basis for a green card application.
Immigration Benefits for Children Based on a U Visa Application
Children of foreign nationals may be included as derivatives in an application for a U visa. You can include children under 18 in your application if you are under 21. If you are over 21, you can include any children in your application, regardless of their age. This will involve submitting Supplement A to Form I-918. You can apply both for children who are currently in the U.S. and for children who are elsewhere in the world.
U visa = a non-immigrant visa granted to victims of certain crimes who are certified by law enforcement or government officials as being helpful in investigating and prosecuting criminal activity
Immigration Benefits for Children Based on a VAWA Petition
If you have an unmarried child who is under 21, you can include them in your VAWA petition for a green card. Sometimes children who are living with a battered spouse may suffer from domestic violence as well. When this happens, they can file their own VAWA petition for a green card.
Immigration Benefits for Children Based on Asylum
If you have an unmarried child who is under 21, and they are living in the U.S. with you, you can include them in your asylum application. You will not need to prove that they also were a victim of domestic violence. The child would receive the same grant of asylum as the parent if the application succeeds, but they also could be removed on the same basis as the parent if the application fails.
VAWA petition = an immigrant visa petition available to certain spouses, children, and parents who have been abused by a U.S. citizen (or spouses and children abused by a legal permanent resident)
If you have an unmarried child under 21 who is not living in the U.S., you may still be able to apply for their admission to the U.S. as a derivative refugee. You will need to apply within two years of receiving status as an asylee. The child must have been under 21 on the date of your initial asylum application, rather than the date on which you received asylee status or applied for derivative status for the child. This will involve submitting Form I-730 and related materials to USCIS.
Asylum = a status granted to certain individuals outside their home country who are unable or unwilling to return to that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution due to their race, religion, nationality, or membership in a particular social or political group