Victims of domestic violence who are not United States or permanent citizens may file an application for a “domestic violence green card.” While “green cards,” also known as permanent resident status documents, are usually obtained through an employer or family member’s sponsorship, the U.S. government offers this special provision for victims of domestic violence seeking residence in America.
Those who file abuse petitions and receive “domestic violence green cards” are entitled to several benefits. Self-petitioners who obtain permanent residency are guaranteed that status unless they commit an offense that renders them removable under U.S. immigration law. Green cards offer permanent residents the following:
- Protection under local, state, and federal laws
- The right to leave and return to the U.S. with a green card
- Access to Social Security benefits
- The opportunity to work in any occupation, including starting a business
- The ability to sponsor a spouse or unmarried children 21 and under for a green card
- Eligibility for U.S. citizenship
Eligibility for “domestic violence green cards” is determined based on the victim’s relationship to the abuser. If you are being abused by your spouse and your spouse is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you can self-petition for a green card. You can also apply if your child is being abused by your spouse. In this scenario, your spouse must also be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
If you are the parent of an abusive child who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you are also eligible to self-petition for a “domestic violence green card.” In this case, you are claiming that your child is abusing you. Also, children under the age of 21 who are abused by parents that are citizens or U.S. residents can apply for a green card. Victims ages 21-25 can also file and abuse petition if it is shown that parental abuse prevented them from filing previously.
As an abused spouse, there are some additional requirements you must meet to be eligible for permanent resident status due to domestic violence. You need to be of good moral character, to have lived with the abusive spouse, to have entered the marriage in good faith and not solely for the purpose of obtaining a green card, and to have suffered extreme cruelty by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse.
Abused parents have to have suffered extreme cruelty by their U.S. citizen or permanent resident child or children, have to have resided with those children, and must be of good moral character. Abused children need to be of good moral character, have lived with the abusive parent or parents, and have suffered extreme cruelty or battery at the hands of a U.S. citizen parent or parent with permanent residency.
Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Help Victims of Domestic Violence Obtain Green Cards
Philadelphia immigration lawyers help victims of domestic violence through the process of obtaining their domestic violence green card so they can put their abuse behind them. Attorneys at immigration law firm Surin & Griffin, P.C. guide clients in properly completing the necessary documentation for the green card process, including Form I-360. Victims should not live in fear or be prevented from leaving their abusers because of their status. Call our Center City Philadelphia office at 215-925-4435 or contact us online to discuss your situation. Surin & Griffin brings experience and compassion to cases in the Greater Philadelphia area, and throughout the country.