Question: I am a victim of domestic violence. My husband has beat me and beat me. I’m afraid to do anything about it because he has threatened to get me deported. Can you help? Is there any hope?
Answer: Yes, there is hope and options. You do not have to stay in this situation. If I am a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or other crimes, what immigration options are available to me? Depending on the circumstances, there are several ways that immigrants who become victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and some other specific crimes may apply for legal immigration status for themselves and their child(ren). A victim’s application is confidential and no one, including an abuser, crime perpetrator, or family member, will be told that you applied.First, there is the Self-Petitions under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) (Form I- 360). This is for spouses and children of abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent residents who have subjected them to battery or extreme cruelty. It is also available for parents of abusive U.S. citizen children (if children are over 21). It allows the victim to apply for legal permanent residency without the help or knowledge of the abuser.
Next, there is the Battered Spouse Waivers under VAWA (Form I-751): This petition is for a conditional permanent resident who has been subjected to battery or extreme cruelty by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse. It allows the victim to remove the conditions on permanent residence without the help or knowledge of the abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse.
Next, there is Cancellation of Removal under VAWA (requested in immigration court). This is for spouses and children of abusive U.S. citizens who have subjected them to battery or extreme cruelty and who are in removal proceedings before an immigration judge. It is also available to the parent of a child or step-child who is abused by a U.S. citizen. Among other requirements, victim must have been in the United States for longer than 3 years, and show that removal will cause the victim extreme hardship. This allows the victim to request that the immigration judge cancel the removal proceedings and grant the victim lawful permanent residency.
There are also nonimmigrant visas as well. The U-nonimmigrant status (crime victims) (Form I-918.) This is for victims of certain serious crimes, including domestic violence, who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse as a result of criminal activity in the United States. This particular visa requires victims to cooperate in the criminal investigation or prosecution. It allows victims to receive a “U visa,” and, after 3 years, if they can prove
humanitarian need, public interest, or family unity reasons, to apply for lawful permanent residency.
Another nonimmigrant visa is the T-nonimmigrant status (victims of human trafficking) (Form I-914). This is for victims who have been subjected to severe forms of sex or labor trafficking. It requires victims to cooperate in the criminal investigation or prosecution. ◦ Allows victims to receive a “T visa,” and, after 3 years, to apply for lawful permanent residency.
Thus, there are options available and there is no need to suffer. You should consult with an immigration attorney right away.