Domestic Violence Protections for Immigrants: How to get a Green Card

Domestic Violence Protections for Immigrants How to get a Green Card

It’s essential to raise awareness about domestic violence, its impact on survivors, and the resources available to help. This article discusses domestic violence protections for immigrants and how immigrants can receive a green card.

Our immigration law firm represents clients in all 50 states. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need assistance with immigration, especially if you are a victim of domestic violence. Remember, you are not alone. 

Domestic violence is a severe problem that affects millions of people every year. Domestic violence can happen to anyone, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status.

Types of abuse include;

  • Physical
  • Emotional/psychological (embarrassing, threatening, withholding information, controlling your life, etc.)
  • Verbal (shaming, name-calling, etc.)
  • Sexual (rape, sexual acts, etc.)
  • Financial (withholding money, destroying your belongings)
  • Digital (texting and bullying, harassing, stalking on social media)

Domestic violence can have a devastating impact on survivors. It can lead to physical injuries, mental health problems, and even death. Domestic violence can also have a negative effect on children who witness it.

Domestic Violence and Immigrants

Immigrants are also victims of domestic violence within different relationships. Immigrant victims typically remain in abusive relationships for fear of deportation or losing their immigration status. However, it’s crucial to educate that immigrants who are in a relationship with a permanent resident (green card holder) or US citizen and are victims of domestic violence have options and can obtain legal status without the permission of their abuser. 

A victim of domestic violence can receive their green card in a few different ways, even if they are not related to a US citizen or a legal permanent resident, this includes:

  • U-Visa
  • Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)
  • T-Visa

Green Card for Domestic Violence: How to Gather Evidence

It is crucial to gather evidence of domestic violence that has occurred to you by your permanent resident, green card holder, or US citizen spouse or child. Substantial evidence can increase your chances and convince the USCIS that you are eligible for a green card based on domestic violence.

It is crucial that you contact an experienced immigration law firm like ours who have worked with victims of domestic abuse so that they can do an interview with you and go over your story. We want to present your story and help you gather evidence as we fully understand the law.

Evidence that you can gather that you can send to the USCIS along with your VAWA self-petition includes:

  • Police reports and statements
  • Restraining Orders
  • Video recordings
  • Photographs of bruises and injury
  • Letters from friends, family, and neighbors
  • Letters or reports from psychiatrist or therapist
  • Letters from shelter staff
  • Threatening emails
  • Screenshots of threatening text messages
  • Medical records
  • Your declaration



VAWA for Victims of Domestic Violence: How to Get Your Green Card

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) protects foreign spouses, children or parents who suffer from domestic violence in the US. It allows victims of domestic abuse to receive immigration benefits, including the ability to apply for permanent residency status. VAWA applies to women, men, parents, the LGTBQ+ community, and children.

To be eligible for a VAWA Green Card, abuse victims must establish the following:

  • The abuser must be a US citizen or lawful permanent resident with a qualifying relationship to the applicant, such as a parent, spouse, former spouse, son, or daughter.
  • That they reside or resided with the abuser at some point
  • That they are of good moral character
  • That they are or have been victims of domestic violence or extreme cruelty
  • For marriage based cases, that the marriage was entered into for bona fide reasons and not just to get an immigration benefit.

To apply for a VAWA Green Card, you’ll need to complete the following steps:

  • File Form I-360: Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant.
  • File supporting evidence for Form I-360.
  • File Form I-485: Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
  • File required documents for Form I-485, including: 
    • Two passport-style photographs.
    • A copy of your government ID with a photograph.
    • A copy of your birth certificate.
  • File Form I-765
  • File Form I-131
  • File Form I-864W

File supporting documents and evidence

U-Visa for Victims of Domestic Violence: How to Get a Green Card

Domestic violence victims can apply for a green card after obtaining a U visa. To qualify for U-visa, they must show that:

  • They are victims of a qualifying crime that violates US law.
  • They suffered mental or physical abuse as a result of the crime.
  • They have credible and reliable information about the qualifying crime.
  • They are willing to assist with the investigation and prosecution of the crime.
  • The crime took place in the United States.
  • Must be physically present in the United States for at least three years from the date of approval of their U-visa

For example, you may be eligible for a U-visa if you contacted the police, provided information about the abuser, testified in court against them, and helped the police identify other victims, if there are any.

File Form I-918, File I-918 Supplement B, and I-918 Supplement A (if you have derivatives)

  • File supporting evidence and documents.
  • A written personal statement describing how you were a victim or bystander witness of a qualifying crime.

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status or (SIJS) for Victims of Domestic Violence: How to get a Green Card

SIJS is specifically for children or young adults (18 to 21) in the United States and can show that they have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent. In addition, SIJS is a way for these individuals to obtain a green card in the United States.

To be eligible for SIJS status, abuse victims must establish the following:

  • File Form I-360: Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant.
  • Birth Certificate evidencing that petitioner is under 21 when the I-360 petition is received. 
  • Predicate court order (Note that states have different age limits for making a finding of dependency)
    • Two passport-style photographs.
    • A copy of your government ID with a photograph.
    • A copy of your birth certificate

T-Visa for Victims of Domestic Violence: How to Get a Green Card

A T-visa is a human trafficking Visa. The trafficking can be labor trafficking or commercial sex trafficking. Labor trafficking is when someone recruits, harbors, transports, provides, or obtains a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery. You may qualify if you you’re working for somebody who is not giving you little or no pay and taking advantage of the fact that you are undocumented. It could be commercial sex trafficking, which is when someone recruits, harbors, transports, provides, solicits, patronizes, or obtains a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act, where the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or the person being induced to perform such act is under 18 years of age.

To be eligible for a T-Visa Green Card, abuse victims must establish the following:

  • You are the victim of a “severe form” of human trafficking, as described above.
  • You are in the United States or at a port of entry due to human trafficking.
  • You will suffer extreme harm if you are forced to leave the United States.
  • The applicant must have complied with the notification requirement to a law enforcement agency about the trafficking.  Unlike the U visa, you do not need the certification of the law enforcement agency for a successful T visa application.  

To apply for a T-Visa , you’ll need to complete the following steps:

  • Meet eligibility requirements: The T-visa holder must meet the eligibility requirements to obtain a green card after being a U visa holder, as mentioned above.
  • File Form I-914: Petition for T Nonimmigrant Status
  • File supporting evidence and documents.
  • A written personal statement describing how you were a victim of human trafficking

The Benefits of a Domestic Violence Green Card

Victims of domestic violence who successfully obtain permanent residency as self-petitioners are entitled to the following benefits:

  • Live and work in the United States.
  • Eligibility for US naturalization and citizenship
  • Protection under US federal and state laws
  • The ability to leave and re-enter the US at will
  • The right to apply for government-sponsored benefits or financial aid
  • The right to apply for a driver’s license
  • The right to receive Social Security benefits
  • The right to start a business
  • The right to sponsor their spouse or unmarried children to the US.

If you are experiencing any form of abuse, you must seek help, document as much as possible, and take care of yourself. Your safety is your number one priority. You should seek medical care, contact the police, call the domestic violence hotline, and also contact an experienced immigration attorney who can help you tell your story and help you obtain your green card.

Remember, your abuser cannot stop you from getting your green card. Your strongest evidence is your voice.

If you have been a victim of domestic abuse, have additional questions, or are looking for help, don’t hesitate to contact the Odunlami Law Firm at 973-993-1900 or email us at support@odunlamilaw.com.

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Domestic Violence Protections for Immigrants: How to Get a Green Card

Domestic Violence Protections for Immigrants: How to Get a Green Card

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Areas of Immigration Law:

  • Naturalization (Citizenship) Application
  • Immigrant Relative Petitions
  • Fiancé Visa Applications
  • Adjustment of Status and Consular Processing
  • Criminal Consequences and Deportation Defense
  • Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Application
  • Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
  • Green Card Renewals
  • T Visa
  • U visa
  • Asylum
  • Temporary Protected Status
  • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
  • Waivers

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