Green Cards for Victims

Jun 16, 2015 | Domestic Violence

If you are victim of domestic violence, and at the same time a non-citizen of the US, please know that even in your unfortunate situation, you have options. As a Miami immigration lawyer, I have helped clients who were victims of domestic violence seek relief in 3 different ways – via asylum; a Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) green card petition, or by applying for a U visa. Here are some frequently asked questions about each option.

What is the legal status of the person who abused you?
The legal status of the person who abused you is important. Why? Because if you to apply for a U visa, or for a green card, you will need to establish a connection between the US and your abuser.

When do I apply for asylum?
You may want to consider asylum as an option if you suffered abuse in your home country, and if your abuser is not a US citizen or legal resident. Be aware that in order to qualify for asylum, you will have to demonstrate that you have a well-founded fear of persecution. Asylum claims are often on the complicated side, so it may be a good idea for you to speak with a Miami immigration lawyer to discuss your options in detail, and if you qualify for relief under existing asylum statutes.

When do I apply for a U visa?
The U visa is a specially designed for victims of serious crimes, including domestic violence, taking place in the United States. This option may be open to you if you suffered abuse within the US, and your abuser is not a US citizen or a legal resident. In order to qualify, you must demonstrate that you helped the authorities in enforcing laws against the crime (for example by serving as a witness or source of information). You must also show that you suffered physical or mental harm from the crime. Again, if you have any questions about the above, do not guess – you may want to consult with a Miami immigration lawyer.

When do I apply for relief under VAWA?
You may qualify for relief under VAWA if your abuser is a U.S. citizen or resident, and you suffered from abuse within the US.  In order to qualify for relief under VAWA, you must demonstrate that you are currently married to the abuser, that your marriage ended within the past two years, or that the abuser lost U.S. citizenship or resident status within the past two years due to domestic violence charges. You must show that you suffered battery or extreme cruelty, entered into your marriage in good faith, resided with your spouse, and are a person of good moral character. If you do not know which category you fall under – do not guess. You may want to speak with a Miami immigration lawyer to discuss all possible options.

I am applying for asylum – can I include my non-citizen children in the application?
That depends – specifically, it depends  on your children’s age, marital status, and location.

  • If your children are in the United States with you, are unmarried, and under the age of 21 – they can be included in your asylum application. Be aware that by including them in your asylum application, they will receive a grant of asylum along with you. However, if your asylum claim gets denied, they could also be ordered deported (removed)  along with you.
  • If your children are outside of the United States, under 21, and unmarried when you filed your asylum application, you can apply for them to enter as derivative refugees. However – it is important to note that you must do this within the first two years of having been granted asylee (refugee) status. 

Again, if you have any questions as to the above, do not guess. It is always best to consult with a Miami immigration attorney to discuss your options.

I am applying for a U Visa. Can I include my children?
Again, that depends – specifically, it depends  on your children’s age, marital status, and location.

  • If you are under 21, your children under 18 can be included in your U visa application. It does not matter whether they are in or outside the United States.
  • If you are over 21, you can apply for any of your children. It doesn’t matter whether the children are in or outside the United States or how old they are.

I am applying for relief under VAWA. Can I include my children?
If your children are under 21, you may include unmarried children in your VAWA self-petition. If they suffer from domestic abuse, they may also file their own VAWA petition.

If you would like more information on relief under VAWA, the U visa, or asylum, please contact Miami immigration lawyer Michael G. Murray, Esq.at (305) 895-2500 or visit our website at murraysilva.com.