No one deserves to experience abuse. Unfortunately, many immigrant victims of domestic violence avoid removing themselves from their abuser out of fear that they will lose their Green Card. As an immigrant in the United States, you are entitled to protection against violence, including domestic abuse.
If you are a victim of domestic abuse, you are not alone. Seeking legal assistance can be the necessary first step to gaining protection and independence from your abuse. To begin the process of securing a domestic abuse Green Card, consider scheduling a fully confidential consultation with a compassionate ZafiroLaw immigration attorney at (206) 547-9906 today to get started.
How Can an Immigrant Suffering from Domestic Violence Get Help?
In the United States, all individuals are guaranteed safety from abuse under both civil and criminal law. This is true regardless of immigration or citizenship status, meaning immigrants and the United States citizens alike are both protected. Fortunately, United States immigration law goes a step further, providing specific protections for immigrants suffering from domestic violence and abuse from a spouse.
There is a range of options available to immigrants suffering from domestic violence to get help. First and foremost, it is important to ensure your immediate safety. You can apply to a court and obtain an order of protection against your abuser. This will help ensure that your abuser cannot contact you or hurt you, as well as your children or other loved ones.
Many individuals who have pursued family-based immigration to receive their Green Card in the United States feel trapped in their home situation due to immigration status. Fortunately, the domestic abuse Green Card offers permanent residency for victims of domestic violence and family abuse. This is a valuable option for immigrants who wish to remain in the United States independent of their abusive family members.
How Can I Keep My Green Card if I Am a Victim of Abuse?
At ZafiroLaw, our team of compassionate attorneys works with individuals who fear losing their Green Card due to abuse. For many immigrant victims of domestic violence, it is often the case that their Green Card has been granted based on their relationship with their abuser. This can leave victims unsure of how to pursue lawful immigration status independent of their abuse.
There are different pathways available to victims of abuse who wish to keep their Green Card in the United States. Depending on the circumstances of your situation, one of two options may be ideal:
- Self-petitioning for legal status using the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Under VAWA, you may be eligible to obtain a Green Card if you are the victim of domestic abuse or battery committed by your spouse, child, or parent who is a United States citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident. This petition can be filed without the knowledge or consent of your family member.
- U Nonimmigrant Status for victims of criminal activity. The U visa is an option for victims of specific crimes who has suffered serious physical and/or psychological abuse. If you wish to pursue this visa option, you should expect to provide information to law enforcement to help with the investigation and prosecution of the crime. The U visa is available to victims of domestic violence and other crimes, a list of which can be found on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website.
Understanding which of these visa options is ideal for your situation is not always straightforward. To learn more about the differences between the VAWA self-petition for domestic abuse Green Card and the U visa for victims of criminal activity, consider speaking with an experienced attorney at ZafiroLaw today.
What Is the Process for Domestic Abuse Victims to Obtain or Keep Their Green Cards?
The process for obtaining a domestic abuse Green Card depends on which visa option you are pursuing. For individuals who are seeking protection under the Violence Against Women Act, Form I-360 is required. After completing and signing the form, as well as submitting all necessary evidence, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin processing your application. You will receive a confirmation that your application has been received. Eventually, you will receive a biometrics services notice and a notice to appear for an interview, if applicable. After these steps have been completed, the USCIS will issue a decision. If successful, VAWA self-petitioners will then be able to apply to receive a Green Card to remain in the United States.
The process is quite similar for U visa applicants. For those applying for protection under the U visa, Form I-918 is required along with a personal statement regarding the violence that has occurred. It is also necessary to provide supporting evidence regarding the abuse. When a U visa is granted, it is valid for a period of four years. After this, you are able to apply for a Green Card to obtain permanent residency in the United States.
Knowledgeable Attorneys at ZafiroLaw Can Help Secure a Domestic Abuse Green Card
Leaving an abusive situation is incredibly difficult, especially if you are an immigrant in the United States whose Green Card depends on marriage or a family relationship. Fortunately, there are options available to help you leave the violent situation and secure permanent residency independent of your abuser. At ZafiroLaw, we are dedicated to helping victims of domestic abuse obtain or keep their Green Card and remain in the United States. To learn more about how we can help, consider contacting our Seattle office today at (206) 547-9906. All conversations are confidential.