The American Immigration Council explains how the federal Violence Against Women Act may protect members of the immigrant community in Kentucky. 

The VAWA’s visa and self-petition provisions may provide relief to noncitizens who experience domestic violence, trafficking or threats of deportation or physical harm. 

What are “U” and “T” visas? 

A U visa may protect noncitizens who have experienced “substantial physical or mental abuse” because of a criminal act. To qualify, you must assist investigation and prosecution of the criminal offense. This visa allows you to live and work in the U.S. and may result in the dismissal of any pending immigration case. 

A T visa helps noncitizens who have suffered “severe forms of human trafficking.” To be eligible, you must be present in the U.S. as a result of trafficking. You must also cooperate with prosecutors and establish that deportation will result in unusual and severe harm. With this visa, you may work in the U.S. and receive job training and economic assistance. 

After three years holding either of these visas, you may qualify for lawful permanent resident status, subject to meeting certain criteria. Your visa application may include family members like spouses, unmarried children and, if you are under 21, parents and unmarried minor siblings. 

How does a self-petition work? 

VAWA allows noncitizens suffering domestic violence, elder abuse or child abuse to self-petition for lawful permanent resident status without the need to get the support of their abusive family member. An approved self-petition may entitle you to work authorization or deferred action. 

What is cancellation of removal? 

You may ask an immigration court for cancellation of deportation proceedings if you have experienced abuse at the hands of a spouse or parent who is a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. This proceeding may entitle you to legal permanent resident status. 

Men may also seek VAWA protections.