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Services for Victims of Violence


In most instances immigrant victims trying to escape domestic violence cannot afford the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars required to hire private immigration counsel.  Survivors can receive high quality legal representation by expert attorneys at ILC, where no person is turned away due to inability to pay. ILC’s services are completely free, and we are often able to obtain waivers of USCIS filing fees, so most clients have minimal, or no costs associated with their case..

Relief options for victims of violence

Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

An individual who has been subjected to battery or extreme cruelty (such as severe emotional abuse) by his or her U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse, parent, or child, may qualify to file a self-petition under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Such a petition can be filed without the abuser’s knowledge or permission. VAWA provides access to a work permit, protection from deportation, and in many cases, the opportunity to apply for lawful permanent resident status. The provisions of VAWA apply equally to males and females.


The U nonimmigrant status (U visa) is set aside for victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity. 

You may be eligible for a U nonimmigrant visa if:

  • You are the victim of qualifying criminal activity.
  • You have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of criminal activity.
  • You have information about the criminal activity. If you are under the age of 16 or unable to provide information due to a disability, a parent, guardian, or next friend may possess the information about the crime on your behalf.
  • You were helpful, are helpful, or are likely to be helpful to law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime. If you are under the age of 16 or unable to provide information due to a disability, a parent, guardian, or next friend may assist law enforcement on your behalf.
  • The crime occurred in the United States or violated U.S. laws.

Although immigrant women experience domestic violence at the same rates as U.S. born women, they are far less likely to reach out to authorities for help due to language barriers, lack of trust, and fear of arrest and deportation.

In many situations, lack of legal immigration status is the primary challenge for immigrant victims of domestic violence. It affects the victim’s ability to gain long-term safety and sustainable economic independence, including the ability to leave, earn a living and support children financially, obtain housing, access essential benefits, receive counseling services, etc.

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