What do you want to learn more about?
You may not immediately put the concept of Social Justice alongside immigration evaluations – and that’s okay!
Social justice is broad, and the ways we can all aid, support, and help to reduce the challenges highlighted by key social justice movements around the world and within our communities are nuanced.
Immigration evaluations help in their way – and I hope I’ll be able to highlight how within this blog.
What is World Social Justice Day?
World Social Justice Day takes place annually on the 20th of February. The day has been in place since 2007 when the United Nations General Assembly first declared the campaign.
World Social Justice Day seeks to recognize the need to promote social justice, including poverty, social exclusion, gender equality, unemployment, human rights, and social protections.
It’s estimated that around two billion people currently live in fragile and conflict-affected situations, of whom more than 400 million are aged 15 to 29.
On World Day of Social Justice, media campaigns raise awareness of better social justice both within nations and between nations. Promoting human rights, removing social barriers based on race, gender, or religion, and standing up for the rights of migrants, are among some of the key themes the day seeks to address.
How Can the Immigration Evaluation Community Help?
‘Removing social barriers’ and ‘standing up for the rights of migrants’ are important outcomes in our line of work. It might not feel like it, but immigration evaluations are a form of social justice in their own way.
We offer support, guidance, and understanding at a time when our clients may be feeling confused, anxious, and even experiencing forms of racism and dismissal as they pursue their visas.
3 Types of Evaluations to Know About
There are many different types of clients who will seek out our support, and the types of visas they’re applying for can be wide-ranging too.
Below I’ve outlined three worth knowing about in the context of social justice.
1. Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Self-Petition Visa
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 1994 included provisions to allow noncitizen victims of domestic violence to obtain immigration relief independent of their abusive spouse or parent through a process called ‘self-petitioning.’
Under VAWA, noncitizen victims of domestic violence, child abuse, or elder abuse may self-petition for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status without the cooperation of an abusive spouse, parent, or adult child.
An approved self-petition provides the applicant with work authorization, deferred action, and to apply for lawful permanent residence.
2. T Visa: For Victims of Trafficking
Some noncitizen women are brought to the United States through human trafficking networks and are forced to work under surveillance, threats of deportation, and threats of physical harm.
T visas were created to provide immigration relief to victims of “severe forms of human trafficking,” which is defined in two ways:
- Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by fraud, force, coercion, or in where the victim is under 18 years of age.
- The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for subjection to involuntary servitude or slavery.
T visas protect recipients from removal and give them permission to work in the United States. Applicants also gain access to the same benefits as refugees, including cash assistance, food assistance, and job training.
3. U Visa: For Victims of Violent Crime
U visas were created by the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 to protect noncitizen crime victims who assist or are willing to assist in the investigation or prosecution of a criminal offense.
A U visa allows applicants to live and work in the United States and can result in the dismissal of any case in immigration court filed against the noncitizen. Noncitizens with pending and granted U visa applications are also eligible to receive a work permit.
Where to Find Out More
Individuals applying for these types of visas are among some of the highest likely to seek out an immigration evaluation around their mental health. As victims, they may also be carrying a lot of trauma and have sought mental health support that may need further input in terms of their visa application.
Being aware of these visas, why they exist, and who might be applying for them can help you to have a better understanding of context, and to deliver the care, guidance, and support the individual needs at this time.
I highly recommend reading up more about these visas and the VAWA. Here are resources I’ve found particularly useful:
- American Immigration Council Fact Sheet
- VAWA Fact Sheet
- Resources for Victims of Human Trafficking & Other Crimes
- T Visa Questions & Answers
Don’t forget, there is lots of advice and guidance across my website and previous blog articles that can help you better understand different types of visas, evaluations, and which ones are right for you to offer.
I’m Cecilia Racine, and I teach therapists how to help immigrants through my online courses. As a bilingual immigrant myself, I know the unique perspective that these clients are experiencing. I’ve conducted over 500 evaluations and work with dozens of lawyers in various states. Immigrants are my passion, I believe they add to the fabric of our country.
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