Immigrant Victims of Domestic Abuse Can Petition for Residency
From El Correo de Queens
Octover 31-November 13, 2003

By Victor Garcia

Minors and women who are victims of domestic violence are protected under the Law of Violence against Women, which was approved in the year 2000, according to the International Foundation of the Immigrant (Fundacion Internacional del Inmigrante FII). The foundation claims that under this law, such women can file their own petitions to the Immigration Service if their partner fails to petition for them. In the United States one out of every four women is a victim of domestic violence.

According to Eduardo Juarez, the president of the foundation, a victim must show the Attorney General that her marriage or intended marriage to a United States citizen was legitimate in order to benefit from this law. She must also show that during the marriage she or her child was mistreated or was the object of extreme cruelty imparted by the husband or boyfriend.

Juarez explained that if an immigrant woman is married to a legal resident rather than a citizen she is also protected under this law. “Of course the law did not forget about them. The petitioner must prove that she was the rightful wife of a legal resident for the last two years, even if her partner has lost residency in those two years due to domestic violence incidents”, he said.

Juarez was very explicit on this issue. “If the woman has been married for two years and her husband is beating her, she must call the police and have him arrested. If the Court finds him guilty of domestic violence, then he can lose his residency for committing a felony and will become ineligible under immigration laws.”

In cases of this nature, the government recognizes the wife and allows her to petition on her own.

Moreover, the wife and her children will receive legal residence if she was divorced due to abuse or extreme cruelty. Immigration services can grant residency if she can prove her case, assured Juarez.

Up until 2000, immigrant women and children who were mistreated had no access to immigration protection, the Law of Violence against Women of 1994 did not do so. This allowed those who committed abuses against their family to act with impunity. Further, the victims could be deported without protection from immigration services.

Juarez invited the victims of domestic violence to solicit free advice.
The organization is located at 1435 Broadway, between 40 and 41 St., second floor, Manhattan 212-302-2222.

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Translated from Spanish by Valeria Treves

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