Additional Services

Licensed clinical psychologist and senior expert witness in California with 10+ years of experience.


Under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), special provisions are in place for green card applicants. Unlike the standard process, VAWA applicants can adjust their status within the U.S. even if they entered without official inspection, worked unauthorized, or lost their lawful status post-entry. VAWA self-petitioners can request a waiver from USCIS to bypass these conditions if they can relate the abuse they endured to any actions that would typically bar them from adjusting their status.

Special waivers are available to those applying for a green card under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). For most who might be green-card eligible, the process known as “adjustment of status,” in which one goes through the entire green card application within the U.S., dealing solely with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), is available only under certain conditions. People who are in the U.S. and hope to choose this procedure instead of consular processing in their home country ordinarily need to have entered the U.S. lawfully after inspection and admittance by a U.S. official at an airport, border, or other entry point, and then have maintained lawful immigration status in the United States afterwards (without overstaying their permitted time). However, this is not true for VAWA applicants. VAWA applicants may apply to adjust status regardless of whether they:

  • entered without inspection
  • worked without authorization in the United States
  • fell out lawful status since their entry into the United States (that is, accrued unlawful presence)

VAWA self-petitioners can apply to USCIS for a waiver of this ground of inadmissibility if they can demonstrate a connection between the abuse suffered and removal, departure, reentry, or activity that triggered this bar.


In a Physicians for Human Rights study of forensic evaluations conducted between 2000-2004, 37.5 % of asylum applicants in the U.S. were granted without a forensic evaluation, compared to the 89% who received a medical or psychological assessment. To obtain asylum status, a person who has fled their home must demonstrate that they have a well-founded fear of persecution on the basis of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership of a particular social group.

U Visa

The U-Visa is an immigration benefit for victims of certain crimes who meet eligibility requirements. USCIS may find an individual eligible for a U visa if the victim:

  • Is the direct or indirect victim of qualifying criminal activity
  • Has suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of criminal activity
  • Has information about the criminal activity
  • Was helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful to law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, or other officials in the detection, investigation, prosecution, conviction, or sentencing of the criminal activity

Additionally, the victim must be admissible to the United States based on a review of his or her criminal history, immigration violations, and other factors. If found inadmissible, an individual may apply for a waiver of inadmissibility for which he or she may be eligible. The U visa allows eligible victims to temporarily remain and work in the United States, generally for four years. While in U nonimmigrant status, the victim has an ongoing duty to cooperate with law enforcement and cannot unreasonably refuse to assist with the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity. If certain conditions are met, an individual with a U visa may apply for adjustment to lawful permanent resident status (i.e., seek a green card in the United States) after three years.

  • You have several children who do not speak the native language of your home country and would have to be educated in a foreign language.
  • You and your qualifying relative spouse are members of a minority ethnic group that suffers persecution in your home country.
  • The country to which you would be deported is experiencing political upheaval or catastrophic economic conditions.
  • You are your family’s sole breadwinner, but you would be unlikely to locate employment in your home country.
  • Your aging US citizen mother is too ill to relocate, and you are her primary caretaker.
  • Many other similar hardships.

601 Hardship

If you are inadmissible to the United States and are seeking an immigrant visa, adjustment of status, certain nonimmigrant statuses, or certain other immigration benefits, you must file this form to seek a waiver of certain grounds of inadmissibility.

Stalking Assault with a weapon Sexual Assault
Murder Blackmail Abusive sexual content
Illegal Detention Sexual exploitation Extortion
Fraud in the hiring of foreign labor Involuntary manslaughter Incest
Witness tampering Female genital mutilation Obstruction of justice
Perjury Prostitution Rapture
Illegal criminal restraint Abduction Involuntary servitude
Hostage taking Torture Forced labor
Slave trade Human trafficking Domestic violence