Experiencing violence or abuse as an immigrant living in the United States can be very scary. You may feel:
- Afraid to reach out for help because you are scared you will be deported.
- Alone and isolated because you are not familiar with the language or culture in the U.S.
- Dependent on your partner to stay in this country, especially if you are in the U.S. through a visa they have obtained.
- Confused about what resources are available to you.
- Afraid that you may lose your children if you reach out for help.
Help is available
You can get help regardless of your immigration status. If you are experiencing domestic violence as an undocumented immigrant in the U.S. you can always reach out to LifeWire for help.
Relief for immigrant survivors
There is relief for undocumented immigrants living in the United States who are being abused.
- The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) allows a battered spouse, child or parent of U.S. citizens or permanent residents to file a petition without the abuser’s knowledge.
- The abuser will not be notified when a petition is filed against them under VAWA.
- Protection applies equally to both men and women.
- The VAWA petition allows a survivor of domestic violence to seek both safety and independence from their abuser.
- Children include step children or adopted children.
- You may be able to apply for a Battered Spouse Waiver if you already have a “green card” as a result of your marriage. Typically when applying for a Battered Spouse Waiver, a survivor must prove the legitimacy of the marriage and show that physical abuse or extreme cruelty has taken place.
- The U Visa offers relief to survivors of domestic violence and other crimes—including trafficking, prostitution, stalking and others—who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse and are willing to assist law enforcement and government officials in the investigation or prosecution of their abuser and the criminal activity.
LifeWire strongly recommends that you consult with an immigration lawyer with experience in VAWA before applying for any type of immigrant status to see if you qualify for these or other forms of immigration relief.
For information and resources available to immigrant survivors of domestic violence, call our 24-Hour Helpline at 425-746-1940 or send us a message on our Get Help page.