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Immigrants who face domestic abuse or divorce have more fears than the average person. Many immigrants fear the implications of reporting abuse or filing for divorce in their immigration status. For those in this position, it is important to keep in mind that your immigration status should not prevent you from reporting a crime or filing a divorce petition. Your immigration status is not automatically a danger, contrary to what your abuser or next-to-be ex-husband says. The United States Law protects everyone within its borders regardless of immigration status. [one]11. For all those victims of abuse or crime, you should always report the crime to the authorities. Also, if you want to get a divorce, you must still file it. Adjustment of immigration status from this point depends on your current status, the status of the abuser or partner, and what happened to you.

In case of abuse, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) provides a variety of protections for the victim of abuse, for example, the U visa may be an option for you. The U visa is a nonimmigrant visa available to those who have been victims of “physical or mental abuse.” [2] In addition to being a victim of physical or mental abuse, you must possess information concerning criminal activities, which may be useful or be willing to assist the authorities to determine criminal activity, obtain a certificate from that or another authority and be admissible for immigration laws or qualify for a pardon [3]

Divorce makes it more difficult, but not impossible to adjust the immigration status. In all cases, you must show that you were married in “good faith” and not for the purpose of immigration status benefits. In order to demonstrate that you married in “good faith, you must provide evidence of cohabitation, such as joint bank accounts, photos, leases together and a variety of other things. In addition, your state depends in part on how you entered the United States, your state when it arrived, and how long you have been here. [4]

If you have been abused or are filing for divorce and are concerned about your immigration status, it is important that you contact a lawyer. The lawyer can review your options with you and will know the pros and cons of the immigration system. For more information, please contact us at

[1] Information on the Legal Rights Available to Immigrant Victims of Domestic Violence in the United States and Facts about Immigration on a Marriage-Based Visa Fact Sheet, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (1/11/2011). fact-sheet

[2] Victims of Criminal Activity: U Nonimmigrant Status, US Citizenship, and Immigration Services (06/12/2018).

[3] Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Provides Protections for Immigrant Women and Victims of Crime, American immigration Council (May 7, 2012).

[4] How Will Divorce or Separation Affect My Immigration Status ?, The People’s Law Library of Maryland (06/02/19).