Visa and Immigration Resource

Violence Against Women Act Visa and Immigration Resource for Colleges and Universities

Guidance to Implement Immigration & Visa Information for Victims of Sexual & Interpersonal Violence

The State University of New York, in partnership with professionals from across the country, has prepared a resource available to any college or university, to provide information to immigrant students who are the victims or survivors of sexual or interpersonal violence.

View the Resource | Customize & Publish in English & Other Languages | Contributors | Translation Credit | Help With Translation

 

Introduction

In March 2013, Congress passed, and the President signed, a bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and the Department of Education issued Final Regulations to implement the law on October 20, 2014.  Among other requirements, page 62785 of the Final Rule requires institutions to provide written notices to students and employees (and to student and employee victims) about “existing counseling, health, mental health, victim advocacy, legal assistance, visa and immigration assistance, student financial aid, and other services available for victims, both within the institution and in the community” (emphasis added).  Those regulations are effective July 1, 2015.

The 2014 Questions & Answers (pages 7-8) from the Office for Civil Rights encourages institutions to notify victims about U and T nonimmigrant statuses, which are available to certain non-immigrant crime victims.  Other relevant information would be how withdrawing from courses—a common interim measure or accommodation—may affect status, or whether reporting to police may reveal that someone is out of status.  

Institutions may provide students and employees with the document available through this resource, customized as appropriate in the bracketed text, to demonstrate compliance with the requirement, and to serve and educate students and scholars who may need this type of assistance.

Some of the references in the resource are to other documents that institutions must prepare pursuant to VAWA.  Here is an example of an explanation of state penal law definitions (p. 7-10).  Here is an example of a customizable resource page an institution can post with comprehensive victim resourcesHere is an example of a sample customizable document listing local immigration resources.

While many who study or conduct research in the U.S. understand English well, during a time of trauma and stress, they may benefit from a document that is available in their native language, while still being customized to the resources available on campus and in the community.  To aid institutions in providing this service, we have translated the document into several languages (and will be adding additional translations in the future).  The translation was initially conducted in Google Translate and, reviewed by a number of volunteers.

These documents are available pursuant to a Creative Commons Use with Attribution License and are freely available for non-commercial use by institutions of higher education.


English Language Resource

[Items in Brackets Can Be Customized for Each Institution]

Immigration & Visa Information for Victims of Sexual & Interpersonal Violence

International students and scholars with questions about their immigration and visa status are advised to seek the assistance of an immigration attorney.  This document is a resource to explain certain aspects of the law, but is not a replacement for legal advice.

I’ve been a victim of assault, does my immigration status affect my ability to access on-campus resources?

No.  Under the law, students and staff who are victims or survivors of sexual and interpersonal violence receive the same rights under Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments (Title IX) and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), regardless of immigration and visa status.  Information about on-campus medical and counseling resources, as well as available accommodations, may be found at [1].  Information about the student conduct process may be found at [2].  The College will not retaliate against you or treat you differently on the basis of reporting a crime.

Can I press criminal charges as a documented or undocumented immigrant?

Yes.  Information about your state’s criminal definitions of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking may be found in the Annual Security Report [3]. Specific questions about filing charges may be addressed to [4].

Are there specific visa and immigration statuses for victims of crimes?

Yes.  For victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking, there may be other visa options, including U and T Visas.  For specifics, talk to an immigration attorney.

U visa

T visa

-For victims of substantial physical or mental abuse as the result of certain criminal activity, including sexual abuse, domestic violence, rape, assault, or other related crimes

-Victim/applicant must be a victim of qualifying criminal activity and likely to be helpful to the investigation and/or prosecution of that criminal activity

-Generally valid for four years

-For more information, consult an immigration attorney, and see: http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/victims-human-trafficking-other-crimes/victims-criminal-activity-u-nonimmigrant-status/victims-criminal-activity-u-nonimmigrant-status

-For victims of human trafficking

-Must comply with reasonable requests from law enforcement for cooperation in investigation or prosecution of trafficking act(s) (unless unable to cooperate because of physical or psychological trauma), and must be able to demonstrate that the victim/applicant would suffer extreme hardship if removed from the United States

-Generally valid for four years

-For more information, consult an immigration attorney, and see: http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/victims-human-trafficking-other-crimes/victims-human-trafficking-t-nonimmigrant-status

Is there an office on campus that can provide me additional information?

[5] The International Student and Scholar Services Office can provide useful information regarding immigration status.  Note that for questions regarding changes to other visa statuses, or legal options that fall outside of standard F-1 and J-1 student visas, or employer-sponsored work visas, consult a qualified immigration attorney.

Visa Options

F-1 and J-1 status students

  • Options for reduced course-load approval due to medical conditions certified by a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist
  • Options for, and consequences to, withdrawing from your academic program
  • Information about returning to the academic program at a later date, if the student chooses to withdraw
  • Options and consequences for accompanying spouses
  • General information on options for changing visa status.
  • General information on U and T visas. (Referral to a qualified immigration attorney)
  • Referral to a qualified attorney

H-1B, O-1, E-3, or TN employees

  • Options for a work leave of absence, and consequences to your immigration status
  • Options and consequences for accompanying spouses
  • General information on options for changing visa status. Referral to a qualified immigration attorney
  • General information on U and T visas. (Referral to a qualified immigration attorney)
  • Referral to a qualified immigration attorney

Pending U.S. permanent residents (green card not yet approved)

  • Impact of leaving your employment on your pending employer-sponsored permanent resident application;
  • Referral to a qualified attorney

What is an immigration lawyer and what do they do?

Immigration lawyers are licensed attorneys who specialize in the field of immigration law. They function as the client’s advocate, and can represent them before immigration agencies, both in immigration court as well as in filing applications for immigration benefits. The lawyer can give general advice and can discuss immigration options. Like all lawyers, immigration lawyers are bound by professional ethical and legal requirements, and keep client discussions confidential.

Where can I find a local immigration attorney?

 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a bureau of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), offers two sites to help individuals find free or low-cost legal representation:

USCIS Find Help in your Community Webpage    |    USCIS Find Legal Services Webpage

The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) provides a listing of attorneys by state who provide immigration services either for free or for little cost.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) offers an online Immigration Lawyer Referral Service that can help a student or scholar find an immigration lawyer.

The American Bar Association also provides information on finding legal services by state.

 


Customize and Publish in English and Other Languages

Any college or university may customize this document with information specific to its instition, and then have that customized information automatically inserted in translated versions of this guidance.

We have developed two easy methods to customize and publish English language and translated guidance:

Directions - Immigration Documents.

Additional sample customizable document for listing local immigration resources.


Colleges and universities are encouraged to review the document to ensure that all elements, including but not limited to information about pressing criminal charges, are applicable in the institution's jurisdiction.


Contributors

The State University of New York thanks the following individuals for their work in development of this resource:

Document Authors

Technical Work, Document Development and Web Development

Translation Credit

The State University of New York thanks the following individuals for their assistance in translating this resource:

Language Name Affiliation
Bosnian Azra Delalic  
Chinese (Simplified and Traditional) James McCully Law Student, Syracuse University College of Law
Filipino Raoul Angelo Atadero Law Student, Cornell Law School
French Jody Shipper Exec. Director, Office of Equity and Diversity and Title IX Coordinator, University of Southern California
German Shannon Crane Law Student, Syracuse University College of Law
Stephanie Sheppard Student, SUNY Albany

Matthias Rubekeil

Compliance Associate, Equity & Compliance Services, Johnson & Wales University

Greek Thania Charmani Law Student, Cornell Law School
Italian Tom Dioguardi Owner, Dioguardi Auto Sales, Inc.
Francesco Paolo Nardacchione  
Japanese Jonathan Gambier Admissions Assistant for International Students, Herkimer Community College
Khmer Hannah Phan Senior Lecturer, Cornell University
Korean H.S. Albert Jung Law Student, Cornell Law School
Montenegrin Ilijana Kalezic Immigration Officer/DSO, Office of International Programs and Law Student, Seton Hall University
Portugese Sally Crimmins Villela Assistant Vice Chancellor for Global Affairs, State University of New York
Portugese (Brazil) Vania Jensen Portuguese Content Editor at Rovi
Romanian Daniela Baban Hurrle International Student Advisor, SUNY Cortland
Russian Alla Brodsky Associate General Counsel, Nassau Community College
Serbian Ilijana Kalezic Immigration Officer/DSO, Office of International Programs and Law Student, Seton Hall University
Spanish Judy Krakower Spanish Teacher, All Saints Academy, Albany New York and Translator, Doctors Without Borders Missions in Dominican Republic
Patricia Martinez de la Vega Mansilla SUNY Cortland International Communications and Culture, New York State Spanish Certified Court Interpreter
Swedish Rose Mirzaie Law Student, Cornell Law School
Turkish Daphne McCurdy Policy Specialist, United States Department of State
Urdu Areeba Thakir Law Student, Cornell Law School

 

Help Us Translate the Document Into Other Languages

We are always looking to add additional translations of the document to make this information more accessible.  If you or someone you know is fluent in a language not yet translated, please e-mail Project Coordinator Joseph Storch.  He will respond as to whether that language is currently under translation and provide the applicable documents for review.  Thank you in advance to any future volunteers.