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Mevorah Law Offices LLC
DuPage County Attorneys


900 E. Roosevelt Road, Lombard, IL 60148

Phone: 630-932-9100


134 N. Bloomingdale Road, Bloomingdale, IL 60108

Phone: 630-529-4761


333 N. Randall Road, Suite 104, St. Charles, IL 60175

Phone: 630-443-0600


105 W. Madison Street, Suite 2200, Chicago, IL 60602

Phone: 630-932-9100


1730 Park Street, Suite 202, Naperville, IL 60563

Phone: 630-420-1000
Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in violence against women act

 IL immigration lawyerBuried in the headlines during the December 2018-January 2019 government shutdown was the expiration of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which is a federal law helping to fund domestic violence shelters, regulate civil and criminal penalties against abusers, and establish community resources for abuse victims. However, what is often lost in the shuffle is that VAWA also grants a potential avenue for immigrants who have been victims of abuse to acquire lawful permanent residence in the United States. As of this writing, VAWA has been extended through February 15, 2019, but if it expires again, it could leave applicants fleeing abuse in the proverbial lurch as funding for legal assistance dries up.

Domestic Violence Is an Immigration Issue

The average person may not connect the dots as to how domestic violence and immigration have anything to do with each other, but in reality, the two are closely intertwined, especially for spouses. It is not uncommon for a foreign national to meet and marry a U.S. citizen, only to have that U.S. citizen abuse or mistreat them, up to and including refusing to help them obtain legal status in the country. Many immigrant spouses, especially women, feel that they have no choice but to remain in abusive marriages, especially if they have U.S. citizen children - often, they are told that if they try to leave, they will be deported and never see their children again.

One might obviously assume that the proper thing to do is immediately seek help from U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), but in many cases, especially if the abuse victim is out of legal status and/or cannot prove that abuse has occurred, it can, unfortunately, do more harm than good, especially under this administration. If an abuse victim is undocumented for more than 180 days and less than 1 year, they will be barred from applying for future visas for 3 years; if they remain in the country without status for more than 1 year, that bar extends to 10 years. Very often, abuse victims speak little English. Legal help is needed in order to try and escape, but funds for legal clinics are harder and harder to come by.

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 IL immigration lawyerUnfortunately, when immigrants come to settle in the U.S., they are very often the victims of crime, especially if they are undocumented, because they are seen as easy targets. If you have been the victim of a crime, particularly a violent crime, it can feel like seeing justice is hopeless, but there is an option by which you may be permitted to remain in the U.S. and assist law enforcement at the same time. The U visa is designed especially for victims of crime, though the criteria are strict, and there are other options you may wish to explore as well.

U Visas

There is a lack of hard data on immigrants as crime victims. Due to language problems and fear of retaliation or deportation, especially under this administration, some immigrant populations are slow to report crimes against them, and some studies do support this conclusion. However, it is not difficult to understand why immigrants might hesitate to report, especially those who belong to vulnerable groups, such as women or members of the LGBT community. Partly as a response to this reluctance, the U.S. government implemented the T and U visas, with the T visa being reserved for human trafficking victims and their families while U visas are for victims of crime in general.

You may be eligible to apply for a U visa if you meet the relevant criteria, which are:

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Posted on in Immigration

b2ap3_thumbnail_VAWA-Chicago.jpgThe Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a law originally passed in 1994, under President Clinton, and has been reauthorized multiple times up until 2013. It is one of the most commonly used methods by immigrants who have been abused to obtain status in the United States. However, in recent weeks, the incoming federal administration has indicated that it might make significant cuts to VAWA’s grant funding, which may cause significant issues for immigrants who rely on it.

Current Application Procedures

As of this writing, VAWA offers a way for immigrants, who have been abused by a qualifying family member, to obtain valid immigration status independent of that family member. Most petitioners are women. However, despite the title of the Act, anyone may apply if he or she meets the criteria, regardless of gender.

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violence against women act, Chicago Immigration LawyerMany foreign citizens living in the U.S. feel trapped in abusive marriages because of their immigration status yet are unaware of the options they might have to separate themselves from their abuser, or even where to begin to look. There is hope, however; United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has a category of visa which permits some of these individuals to escape their abusers and remain in the country. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a piece of legislation that has made it easier for battered spouses to obtain legal status without being attached to their abusive mate.

The Origins of VAWA

The Violence Against Women Act was passed in 1994 as a response to an increase in crimes against women. It guarantees certain safeguards for crime victims, and has been extended so that men can take advantage of its protections in certain circumstances. In the same year, provisions in VAWA modified the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) so that battered spouses (who are victims of domestic violence, which is a crime) could enjoy greater protection from their abusers. While VAWA is used most often by spouses, the provisions in the INA actually apply to spouses, children and parents of U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Not every abusive relationship is romantic, after all; other family members touched by abuse deserve equal protections.

One situation that may occur is when a U.S. citizen or permanent resident files an I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, for their spouse, parent or child, and then hold that over the person’s head. The battered person comes to think that he or she has no alternative but to remain with the abuser, because they fear the consequences of deportation. He or she may have entered the country without inspection, and thus would face very real hardships if sent back to their homeland. However, in truth, VAWA does not consider the status of a battered person in their application, at least not in theory.

How to Apply

The only requirements are that (1) a person be the spouse, parent or child of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident; (2) he or she be the victim of abuse or battering from that person, and (3) he or she be a person of good moral character. If you meet these requirements, you may then file an I-360, a Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er) or Special Immigrant, without any sponsor (one would normally be required). If the I-360 is approved, and you do not have legal status, you may be placed in deferred action, which allows you to remain in the country.

The “good moral character” requirement can be problematic for some potential applicants, especially if they entered the country without inspection. Children under age 14 are presumed to be of good moral character, but not adults. VAWA relief can and will be denied if it is determined that you are not of good moral character. The most common provided reason is past involvement with drugs or other crimes, which can be said to be deleterious to the fiber of society, but it is not unheard of for past immigration infractions to be held against you. In this case, it is best that you consult with an experienced immigration attorney.

Get Experienced Help on Your Side

The passionate Chicago immigration attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC have years of experience in helping people gain legal status, and we will do our best to help you. Contact our office today for a free initial consultation.

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