Know the Difference Between VAWA and a U Visa

If you are the victim of domestic violence, trying to figure out which one of these immigration categories (either a U Visa or VAWA) is the best for you given your circumstances can be extremely overwhelming. Because the truth is, you may be eligible for both.

If you are looking for a path to a green card both forms of relief do provide do a path. Now, you just have to figure out the best path for yourself. It may be best to speak to an immigration attorney however, this article explains the differences between the two, so that you may make a more informed decision.

What is VAWA?

VAWA or the Violence Against Women Act offers protections and allows victims of domestic violence or spousal abuse to “self-petition” to obtain a green card without the cooperation of the U.S. citizen or permanent resident relative who is abusing them. VAWA applies to women, men, and children.

What is a U Visa


The U Visa or U nonimmigrant status is specifically for victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse. These crimes include domestic violence, felony assault, sexual assault, trafficking, and kidnapping. These victims are helpful to either law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or the prosecution of criminal activity. Meaning that these victims have knowledge of the crime that could lead to help in the investigation and prosecution.

The difference between U Visa and VAWA


Here are a few of the main differences between a U Visa and VAWA. These differences will help you to better understand a U Visa versus VAWA, and will also help navigate you as to which path you will want to choose.

  • There is no limit or cap on VAWA however, the yearly cap on a U Visa is 10,000 per year. This 10,000 limit is usually already met early in the year. After the 10,000 cap limit is met, you will be then added to a waitlist

  • The path to your green card is much faster through self-petition with VAWA than with U Visa because of the 10,000 limit cap

  • VAWA self- petitioners must have a qualifying relative to apply. For example, your spouse is a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident (has a green card)

  • You must be helpful in a way to Law Enforcement Authorities that you can actually help with providing knowledge of the crime or criminal activity to qualify for a U Visa

  • When filing for VAWA you will have to provide numerous documents including marriage in good faith, for a U Visa you provide less documentation

  • Under VAWA you must also provide proof of good moral character, U Visa does not.

We understood how difficult these circumstances are and it can be very difficult to navigate the situation. Our goal is to help guide you through this process as painlessly as possible. We want you to be able to get the relief and the help you need. These cases often present unique challenges, and it is important that you reach out to us as soon as possible to discuss all of your options.

Are you looking for immigration services or more information regarding U Visa or VAWA? We can help.

Contact the Odunlami Law Firm at 973-993-1900 or email us

If you need an employment visa, wish to immigrate, or want to help bring a family member to the United States, the Odunlami Law Firm can help. If you are facing deportation or removal for any reason, you need our help. You may contact the law office for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Areas of Immigration Law:

Naturalization (Citizenship) Application

Immigrant Relative Petitions

Fiancé Visa Applications

Adjustment of Status and Consular Processing

Criminal Consequences and Deportation Defense

Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Application

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

Green Card Renewals

Temporary Work Visas

Temporary Protected Status

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals


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