• There are immigration laws that can help you escape violence and get legal immigration status even if:
  • You are being abused by your U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (“green card”) spouse, parent, or child (over 21)
  • Your child is being abused by his or her U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (“green card”) parent
  • You are undocumented or without legal immigration status

If these immigration laws apply to you, you can get legal status without help from your battering spouse or parent.

Listed below is a list of things you should or should not do in order to try and obtain legal status

What Not To Do

  • Do not discuss your immigrant status with anyone except your attorney or the advocate who is helping you at a shelter/domestic violence agency
  • You should not go to the Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS – formerly the INS) alone, even to ask for information. If you receive a notice to go to CIS for an interview or a hearing, speak to an advocate or attorney immediately.
  • You should not, under any circumstances, file any papers at the CIS without first discussing your case with an advocate or attorney.
  • You should not get divorced until you have spoken to an immigration attorney. If you or your spouse have already started divorce proceedings, call immediately.
  • You should not keep your documents where your batterer may find them.

What You Can Do

  • You should get help from a battered women’s program or legal services or consult with a Saheli advocate. They can help you figure out your options.
  • You should find any and all documents that will support your case, particularly documents mentioned above that can prove you lived together with your spouse (apartment leases, joint utility bills sent to your address, marriage certificate, etc.)
  • Proof of abuse such as restraining or civil protection order, police reports, medical records, letter, from a battered women’s program, photos of injuries/bruises
  • Evidence of “good moral character” such proof that you have no criminal record, a letter from your religious institution
  • You must provide a written affidavit describing the history of your relationship with abuser.