Domestic Violence

Services for Immigrant Survivors of Domestic Violence

The Ascentria Immigration Legal Assistance Project assists noncitizen victims of domestic violence to apply for relief under the Violence Against Women Act. Many survivors of domestic violence are afraid to leave abusive relationships because they fear deportation or their status may be dependent upon their U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (“green card holder”) spouse. For this reason, Congress created a path for certain abused immigrant men and women in the United States to petition for lawful permanent residence without the help of their spouse or partner.

For more information or legal assistance, please contact the Immigration Legal Assistance Program of Ascentria at 774.243.3045, or infolegal@ascentria.org

Frequently Asked Questions about Domestic Violence and Immigration Law

Is domestic violence a family matter and best kept within the family?

Domestic violence is against the law in the United States. In addition to the police, there are a variety of services available to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. This includes legal, housing, counseling, educational, and social services.

What can I do if I am a suffering domestic abuse?

You can call the police. If you are being hurt, call 911 and the officer will help you. When the officer arrives, you can ask the officer to take you to a hospital, shelter, or a court. The court can issue emergency protective orders and warrants if necessary.

You can ask for a protective order. Protective orders are orders from a judge or magistrate telling the abuser to stop the abuse. Protective orders also can prohibit the abuser from contacting you.

If in need of counseling, housing or social services, please contact Daybreak/YWCA, a 24 hotline, at (508) 755-9030 (Greater Worcester area only). You can also contact Safelink, a state-wide 24 hour hotline, at (877) 785-2020 (Massachusetts only).  If in need of immigration legal services, please contact the Ascentria Immigration Legal Assistance Program at 774.243.3045, or infolegal@ascentria.org to set up an appointment.

Will I be deported if I seek help?

If you are undocumented or unsure of your immigration status, you should talk to an immigration attorney. Regardless of your status, calling a domestic violence hotline should not place you in danger of deportation. Also, the police should help you if you call them in an emergency and generally should not inquire about your immigration status.

Can I get a green card without the help of my spouse?

Victims of domestic abuse who are married to U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents may be able to file for immigration status on their own behalf and on behalf of their children. This is called a self-petition under the Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”). It is recommended that any victim of abuse consult with an immigration attorney to determine if he or she qualifies for immigration relief.

How do I self-petition?

You must complete an immigration petition, attach supporting documentation, and write your story.  It is recommended that you have an immigration attorney when preparing your self-petition.  To schedule an appointment with an attorney, please contact the Immigration Legal Assistance Program at 774.243.3045, or infolegal@ascentria.org.

What if my spouse is not a U.S. citizen or LPR or I was never married to my abuser?

You might be eligible for a special type of visa called a U visa for victims of violent crime. U visas are for victims of certain crimes if the person was, is, or will be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the crime.  For more information about requirements to qualify for the U visa, please contact Ascentria staff.

I can't afford an attorney. What do I do?

The Ascentria Immigration Legal Assistance Program provides free and low-cost legal assistance to low-income individuals. You may have to indicate your income and household size in order to qualify.

How do I make an appointment?

Please contact the Ascentria legal office at 774.243.3045, or infolegal@ascentria.org to schedule an appointment.