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Unfortunately, not all marriages are bliss. Marriage can be a trap for noncitizens married to abusive spouses. Victims of domestic violence may feel forced to choose between enduring the abuse or losing the life they’ve built in the U.S. and returning to their country of origin. Fortunately, there are avenues for victims of domestic abuse to be protected and gain legal status in the United States
Anyone who is a victim of domestic violence, and who is concerned about leaving the relationship due to his or her immigration status, should seek the help of a skilled West Chester immigration lawyer. No person should be required to stay in a violent situation out of fear of deportation. At Skinner Law Firm we will identify the options available to you and help you obtain the best possible outcome.
If you or a loved one is a victim of domestic violence, we can help you. Even if you are currently in removal proceedings in Philadelphia Immigration Court, York Immigration Court, or beyond, there may be options to prevent deportation. Call us at (610) 436-1410 to set up a consultation. We assist clients throughout the Philadelphia and tristate region, including Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Montgomery, and York counties.
For some victims of criminal activity, there are a limited number of nonimmigrant visas available. With such a visa, a person (and sometimes accompanying spouses and minor children) will be able to lawfully remain in the United States and obtain work authorization.
A U-Visa is available to victims of certain crimes. These crimes include domestic violence, stalking, kidnapping, sexual assault, and rape. The victim must be able to show:
Under the current immigration laws, only 10,000 U-Visas are issued per year. However, a person who has applied for a U-Visa and whose case was deferred can seek work authorization until a final decision is reached on his or her application. U-Visas may be granted for up to four years. U-Visas may also be extended.
A T-Visa is specifically for victims of human trafficking. The government allows for victims of human trafficking to stay in the United States in order to assist law enforcement in combating modern-day slavery. Many trafficking victims become domestic violence victims after they are forced into abusive relationships. A person must be able to show that he or she would suffer extreme hardship if removed from the United States. T-Visas are very rarely sought but are still an important tool for victims.
Battered spouses, children, and parents may seek protection from removal and work authorization under immigration provisions of the Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA.”) People granted protection under VAWA may eventually seek legal permanent resident status (green card) in the U.S.
Although the Act refers to women, VAWA protection is available to both married and unmarried men and women. In addition, the term “violence” incorporates not just physical injuries, but also sexual abuse, emotional abuse, threats, and other non-physical intimidating behavior.
A person petitioning for VAWA protection must meet the following requirements:
Certain exceptions apply for those who are divorced from an abusive spouse. For example, if a legal permanent resident lost his or her legal status due to domestic violence that person is still eligible to petition for VAWA protection. It is important to consult with an Immigration attorney to see if you or a loved one qualifies for VAWA protection.
If you or a loved one are the victim of domestic violence and are concerned about your immigration status, it is important that you explore all of your options. Many protections under the immigration law can be made without the abusive partner’s knowledge. A dedicated West Chester immigration lawyer for domestic violence victims can help you remain in Pennsylvania or elsewhere in the United States. Call us today at (610) 436-1410 to set up a consultation.