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Immigrant victims of domestic violence can remain in the U.S.

Domestic violence is one of the worst experiences that someone can go through. Often, victims do not know where to turn, because they are afraid of further angering their abusive partner. It can leave you feeling hopeless and alone.

This especially applies to noncitizen immigrants who are victims of domestic violence. One of the most common ways an abuser gains power over his or her victim is through the threat of deportation. "If you call the cops on me, I'll tell them you are here illegally, and you'll get deported," is a common threat.

U.S. Law Offers Protections To Domestic Violence Victims

Fortunately, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), contains provisions that protect noncitizen immigrants who are the victims of domestic violence. If you are the spouse, child or even parent of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who is abusing you, you can file an immigrant visa petition (form I-360) for yourself. The law applies to women and men.

Most importantly, your abuser will not know that you are filing the petition. The law gives you time to seek safety first. You can also file if you are living abroad with a U.S. citizen who is a government employee or serving in the military, or even if the abuse occurred while you in the U.S.

What You Should Do Next

No one deserves to be a victim of domestic violence, and there are steps that you can take to stay safe. If you are a victim, do not fear threats of deportation. You can come forward, and an immigration attorney can help you file the proper paperwork to stay in the United States without having to also fear for your safety.

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