Immigration for Domestic Violence Victims
Domestic violence has become an increasing problem over the past two years, partially due to COVID-19 and related precautions. This type of conduct can harm people in many different situations, but immigrants might feel particularly trapped in their abusive circumstances due to fear of being deported or losing green card status. Fortunately, there are immigration rights and procedures that protect people in this type of situation.
Immigration Options for Victims
Immigration laws have protections for non-citizens who suffer domestic violence and want to separate from their abusers while remaining in the United States. Here are three options if you are facing this situation:
- Self-petitions for legal immigration status according to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
- Seeking cancellation of removal from the U.S. under VAWA protections
- Seeking U-nonimmigrant status for victims of crime
When you apply for any of these immigration protections, you can rest assured that it is confidential, and your spouse will not be informed that you petitioned.
You must meet requirements to qualify for these immigration benefits, and the best thing to do is discuss whether you are eligible with a lawyer who handles this type of matter. Some considerations for VAWA protections include:
- You are the spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who engaged in domestic violence
- You are the former spouse of an abuser if the marriage ended in divorce because of the abuse
- Your abuser subjected you or your child to extreme cruelty or battery during your relationship
- You resided with the domestic abuser
- You can show you have good moral character
- You entered into the marriage or relationship in good faith and not for immigration purposes
Legal Rights For Domestic Violence Victims in the U.S.
United States law protects everyone from domestic violence, regardless of their immigration status. Both civil and criminal laws provide rights, including:
- Obtaining a protective order
- Reporting a crime and seeking police protection
- Filing for divorce or legal separation without a spouse’s consent
- Keeping your fair share of marital property
- Seeking custody of your children and child support
If you are in danger, you should call 911, as anyone has the right to report a criminal act. Then, a family law attorney with experience in immigration law can help you navigate the necessary legal processes to protect yourself and your children from further domestic violence. This can include obtaining a protective order that prohibits your spouse from contacting you or your children or requires them to move out of the family home.
Contact an Immigration and Family Law Attorney for Help
It can be a very concerning situation if your immigration status relies on your domestic abuser, but you have options under both immigration and family laws. Never wait to protect yourself with help from a law firm that handles both family and immigration cases.