The Violence Against Women Act aims to provide women who have been the victims of domestic violence with protection from their abusers throughout the United States. This piece of legislation protects all women in the United States, regardless of their immigration status. If you are an undocumented immigrant who has been the victim of domestic violence in the United States, you may be able to file a “self-petition,” which can allow you to become a legal resident. Under the Violence Against Women Act, undocumented immigrants who are victims of domestic violence may also obtain legal residence for any unmarried children under the age of 21. In addition, you may be able to qualify for VAWA if you were not abused but your child was.
In order to become eligible for legal residency status under VAWA, you must have suffered extreme cruelty and abuse from your spouse and have resided in the United States for the previous three consecutive years. In addition, you will need to show that if you are removed from the United States, you and/or your children will face extreme hardship.
If you are a victim of domestic violence but are not eligible for VAWA, you may want to consider filing a U-Visa instead. You should consult with an experienced immigration attorney in order to determine which option is best with you. Finding protection from your abuser is of the utmost importance and our firm is dedicated to guiding you in the direction of safety and assisting in your immigration process.
John Sesini is an experienced immigration attorney with offices in Green Bay and Milwaukee Wisconsin. If you have any questions regarding these matters, please contact the Sesini Law Group, S.C. and obtain your initial consultation.