The U.S. immigration laws provide significant immigration help for nonimmigrant spouses who have been victims of abuse. First, for purposes of seeking employment, a nonimmigrant spouse who has suffered abuse at the hands of their spouse can apply for an employment authorization document by filing Form I-765V. See the information page here. Form I-765V is for abused spouses of those admitted to the U.S. on A, E-3, G, or H nonimmigrant visas. These employment authorizations are provided by the Violence Against Women Act passed by Congress in 1994.
To be eligible for an employment authorization document as an abused nonimmigrant spouse, you must meet these requirements:
- Are or were married to a nonimmigrant who was admitted to the United States in A, E-3, G, or H nonimmigrant status
- Were last admitted to the United States in A, E-3, G, or H nonimmigrant status
- Were battered or subjected to extreme cruelty (or your child was battered or subjected to extreme cruelty) perpetrated by your nonimmigrant spouse during the marriage and after your admission to the United States in A, E-3, G, or H nonimmigrant status
- Victim currently resides in the United States
- Victim has not remarried
A Form I-765V can still be approved if the marriage at issue has come to an end. This applies if:
- The abusive spouse dies within two years of submitting Form I-765V
- The abusive spouse lost qualifying nonimmigrant status due to an incident of domestic violence within the two years prior to the filing of Form I-765V
- The marriage was terminated within the two years prior to the filing of Form I-765V, and there is a connection between the termination of the marriage and the battery or extreme cruelty perpetrated by the abusive spouse
For those who are married to an abusive U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident, it is important to understand you may be eligible for more than just work authorization: you may be eligible for permanent residency through VAWA provisions. This is permitted by the Violence Against Women Act. VAWA is for victims of spousal abuse and gives them temporary residency status which, after three years, can lead to naturalization. Eligibility requirements are as follows:
- Abuse victim is/was married to a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident
- Abuse victim lived with the abusive spouse
- Victim was battered or subject to extreme cruelty during the marriage
- Victim is otherwise eligible for an immigrant visa
- Victim possesses good moral character
- The victim can be either the husband or wife
Depending on the circumstances, another option for victims of spousal abuse is to apply for a U visa. The U visa is for victims of certain crimes -- including spousal abuse -- where the victim has suffered mental or physical abuse, and the victim has been or will be "helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity." A U visa is a nonimmigrant visa, but an adjustment of status petition can be filed to obtain a green card after 3 years of continuous physical presence in the U.S.
Contact Yekrangi & Associates Today
For more information, contact the Orange County Immigration Attorneys at Yekrangi & Associates today. You are not alone, and we will fight for you. Yekrangi & Associates works to meet a higher standard. Our first goal is your satisfaction. Contact us at (949) 478-4963 to schedule a consultation or complete our convenient “Get Your Consultation” form here. We are located in Irvine, California.