As with other areas of the law, the immigration laws of the United States include provisions to help victims of abuse.
The end of Domestic Violence Awareness Month is a good opportunity to review the options that immigrants who have suffered abuse may use to protect themselves.
The Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA, allows immigrant spouses, children and parents of United States citizens to apply for permanent residency, that is, for a Green Card, without having to rely on the citizen to assist.
Victims can also enjoy this option even if an abuser is not a citizen but is a legal permanent resident of the United States.
The point of these laws is that they offer some measure of independence for an immigrant who has been a victim of domestic violence.
She can receive ongoing permission to stay in the United States without having to worry about her abuser controlling her or even doing something to interfere with her immigration status.
Applying for immigration protection under the VAWA can be complicated
Although immigrant victims of domestic violence in the Tampa area should not hesitate to consider applying for VAWA benefits, there are certain eligibility requirements.
For example, with respect to abused spouses, the victim will often have first to go through a divorce proceeding from his abusive spouse.
The person applying for permanent residency will also have to prove that the abuse allegations are true, although this does not mean that criminal charges had to be filed against the abuser.
There are other eligibility requirements which apply to spouses, and separate eligibility requirements apply to parents or children who have been victims of abuse. In order to get permission to work in the United States, an immigrant may have to take additional steps.
An experienced immigration attorney can help a victim of abuse apply for permanent residency under the VAWA.