New York Lawyer's Legal Updates

Are You an Undocumented Immigrant Victimized by Domestic Violence?

Author: Immigrant lawyer Alena Shautsova

Immigrants subject to domestic violence by a spouse who is a permanent resident or U.S. citizen sometimes experience threats of arrest, deportation, or denied sponsorship as a means of manipulation to keep them from leaving a harmful relationship or calling the police. Domestic violence is also a problem for some undocumented aliens who are afraid to report it for fear of deportation.

However, under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), victims may file a petition with the United States Customs Citizenship and Immigration Services (UCIS) that allows them to stay in the United States.

If you are an immigrant domestic violence victim, it is best to seek legal help from an experienced New York immigration lawyer who can review your situation and file the petition on your behalf. The lawyer can ensure you meet all filing requirements. If your status is undocumented, the USCIS places you in deferred action which enables you to remain in the United States and also makes you eligible to work here.

IVAWA also contains privacy protection for domestic violence victims. It restricts evidence that may be used at trial, limiting details and facts about past sexual conduct from becoming part of a public record. Especially in rape cases, the defense attorneys often try to employ strategies that use past sexual history to make it appear as if sex were consensual. Yet, tarnishing a victim's reputation further humiliates the victim. Rules of court prevent open court discussions of such details, which protects both the victim and the accused.

A New York immigration lawyer experienced in handling VAWA cases can help.

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