US Immigration Laws Can Help You if You Are a Victim of Domestic Violence

So you’re living in the US without legal status. Doesn’t matter if you came across the border with out inspection, or overstayed a visa. Either way, you’re without status.

And you’ve been a good person, right? Being a good neighbor, paying your taxes, raising a family, and helping your kids with homework.

But you have a big problem: your spouse, or parent or child has been abusive to you. They yell at you and possibly even hit you. Whether they hit you or not, every time they treat you like this, it hurts as much though they were hitting you. Maybe it started gradually over the years, or the abuser suffered a job loss before or because of COVID, or was arrested and they blame it on you. It’s not your fault, but they treat you like it is.

That’s rough. Believe it or not, I’ve been there. I was new to America, and my first husband was abusive to me. I was fortunate that I was a young attorney, and knew what to do, and divorced him.

But not everyone has the ability in life to just change the situation and get out. You have kids, a job, house work and responsibilities. Disrupting all that is hard.

But I tell you, you must do it. And believe it or not, the US immigration system can help you. As a battered spouse, child or parent, you may qualify to petition for legal permanent residence, also known as the green card, under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended by the Violence Against Women Act,  or VAWA.

There are a number of criteria you have to meet, but basically if you’re good, and your abuser is bad, it’s likely you qualify.

There’s another visa, called the U-Visa, which is for victims of serious crimes. A victim of domestic violence may qualify for a U-Visa, so it’s important to speak with an immigration attorney to know the difference.

Also, while applying, your immigration attorney can help you get an Employment Authorization. That way you can work legally rather than fearing for your job if your employer finds out about your status.

I’m sorry that you’re abused. It’s almost the worst thing when a person you love abuses you. Let’s talk. Let’s turn your abuse into a better life for you and your family.

Margaret W. Wong, Esq.
CEO and Managing Partner
Margaret W. Wong & Associates LLC
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