In the United States (US), there is a diverse community of undocumented immigrants. Some may have fled their countries due to difficult situations, or may be seeking economic opportunities here. Undocumented immigrants are vulnerable to crimes because some may not speak English or use American Sign Language; they are often separated from family/friends (isolation); and/or they may not understand US laws. For these reasons and other circumstances, undocumented immigrants are often scared to reach out for assistance or report acts of domestic violence or any type of crimes. President Obama signed an expansion to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) which states that the government will provide protection to undocumented immigrants. The United States has different types of immigrant status, outlined below.
Types of Immigrant Status
Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR)
- Have a green card which allows you to work and live in the US
- Student visas (to attend school here in the US)
- Work visas (To work in the US)
- Tourist visas (To visit the US)
- T-visas (for trafficking victims)
- U-visas (for victims of crimes)
To be eligible for a T-visa, you either are or were a victim of trafficking, Must have traveled to the US because you were recruited, forced, abducted, or deceived by the perpetrator of human trafficking and would not have been present in the US if it were not for the actions of the perpetrator of human trafficking. Must assist law enforcement with their investigation, and must demonstrate that you would suffer extreme hardship if you were removed from the US.
To be eligible for an U-visa, you either are or were a victim of a "qualifying criminal activity" and the crime happened in the US.
What kind of crimes are eligible?
- Violent Crimes: murder, manslaughter, vehicular homicide, robbery, felonious assaults that includes the use of a deadly weapon, statutory rape, domestic violence, and stalking.
- Enslavement Crimes: criminal restraint, kidnapping, abduction, being held hostage, forced labor, slavery, human trafficking, indentured or debt servitude, and false imprisonment.
You must cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation of the crime. For more information on U-visas, visit: US immigration support
We are aware that there are unique issues that make it harder for undocumented immigrants to report any crime, especially when it includes domestic violence or sexual assault.
- Preventing you from learning English or American Sign Language
- Preventing you from communicating with your family/friends
- Threatening deportation
- Threatening to withdrawn of petitions for legal status
- Destroying legal documents needed in the US such as passports, resident cards, health insurance information, or driver's license.
- Getting you fired from your job
- Calling your employers and falsely reporting that you are undocumented
- Threatening either to hurt or take away your children if the police are contacted
IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER:
Domestic violence is against the law regardless of your immigrant status!
A specialized immigration attorney should always be your first point of contact when it comes to immigration questions and concerns. We can help connect you with specialized attorney referrals, just contact us.
If you are an undocumented immigrant experiencing abuse from your partner, please consider seeking out help from a DOVE advocate.