What to Do if Your Partner Threatens You with Deportation
If you’re an immigrant seeking deserved safety or opportunity in the U.S., any threat of deportation can likely make your stomach sink. However, such threats can be all the more intimidating when they come from an abusive spouse or partner. Sadly, domestic violence isn't an uncommon experience for many noncitizens and their loved ones.
If you’re a foreign-born victim of domestic violence in the U.S., it’s imperative to understand what steps you can take to protect yourself and secure your legal status in the U.S. Being threatened with deportation by an abusive spouse or partner can be very distressing, but it's crucial to remember that there are legal rights and protections available to you under the law, regardless of immigrant status.
In this blog, we’ll review 6 essential steps for domestic abuse victims to prioritize their safety and work toward securing lawful residency in the United States.
Can an Abusive Spouse or Partner Get You Deported?
While domestic abuse can take a heavy toll on any person, it can be more stressful for those whose legal status in the U.S. is never guaranteed. For foreign-born victims of domestic violence, there is help available. It’s imperative to take swift legal action as soon as possible to avoid lasting harm or even fatal consequences.
Below are 6 key steps to obtain safety and lawful status in the U.S. as a victim of domestic abuse:
1. Prioritize your safety.
Regardless of national origin, the safety of domestic violence victims is paramount and should take complete priority in instances of abuse. If you're in immediate danger, it’s imperative to call emergency services right away.
Seeking help from local law enforcement can offer needed protection and assist in documenting the abuse, maximizing your chances of successfully proving your claims in the courtroom. Your lawyer can also collaborate with you and law enforcement personnel to obtain necessary protections, such as restraining orders.
2. Seek representation from a qualified immigration attorney.
Consulting with a qualified immigration lawyer is nonnegotiable to be successful in court. Your attorney will be an invaluable asset to you in and out of the courtroom, as they can assist with:
- Securing your legal status in the United States
- Keeping track of important deadlines and court dates
- Filling out all required paperwork promptly and correctly
- Fortifying your claims with sufficient evidence (such as medical records, witness testimonies, police reports, and other important documentation)
- Determining an effective legal strategy to employ on your behalf based on the unique nature of your case
- Negotiating with other involved parties, such as law enforcement and USCIS, to obtain a favorable outcome in court
3. File for a restraining order.
Restraining orders play a key role in safeguarding domestic violence victims from their abusers. You can legally enforce the distance between you and your spouse or partner by obtaining a restraining order. This protective measure can provide significant relief and ensure your safety during the legal proceedings.
4. Involve law enforcement.
Filing a formal complaint with the local law enforcement agency is an essential step for many domestic violence victims. This can create a formal legal record of the abuse that can strengthen your case considerably and serve as valuable evidence when seeking legal protection and pursuing immigration options.
5. Self-petition for immigration benefits under VAWA.
Another avenue available to victims of domestic abuse is the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This protective measure provides immigrants who have been abused by a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or parent with a pathway to obtaining legal status independently of their abuser by ensuring that victims are not forced to remain in an abusive relationship due to fear of deportation.
6. Consider legal avenues to obtain lawful residency in the U.S.
There are various ways for victims of domestic abuse to secure safety and lawful residency in the U.S. Common paths to achieve this include:
Applying for a U Visa
The U visa is a nonimmigrant visa category available to victims of qualifying crimes, such as domestic violence or sexual assault. The U visa was established to encourage immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, to come forward and assist law enforcement without fear of deportation.
To be eligible for a U visa, the victim must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of the crime. The victim must also be helpful, or likely to be helpful, in the investigation or prosecution of the crime. U visa recipients are granted legal status in the U.S. for up to four years and can also apply for work authorization.
Applying for a T Visa
The T visa is available to individuals subjected to severe forms of trafficking, including labor trafficking and sex trafficking. Victims under 18 are automatically considered for T visas, while adult victims must demonstrate that they would suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm if removed from the United States. In addition to applying for a U visa or T visa, victims of domestic abuse can also consider:
- Self-petitioning under VAWA – The Violence Against Women Act allows certain abused spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents to self-petition for immigration benefits.
- Applying for asylee/refugee status – Asylee or refugee status is an option for immigrants seeking protection and legal status due to fear of persecution in their country of origin. Both processes can provide safety to noncitizens at risk of harm due to various factors, such as religion, race, or gender.
Aggressive Advocacy for Miami Immigrants
At Hubbs Law, P.A., our passionate advocates have a longstanding reputation for protecting the rights of hardworking immigrants in Miami and beyond. Our in-depth knowledge of U.S. immigration law, not to mention our diverse experience in Florida criminal law and federal criminal defense, makes us well-equipped to represent noncitizens in a variety of immigration law disputes, from deportation to airport arrests. Reach out to our firm to learn how our compassionate team can collaborate with you to restore your freedom and protect your rights.
U.S. immigration can be complex to navigate alone. Our experienced Florida immigration lawyers can help. Call (305) 570-4802 to request a consultation.