Domestic violence can be devastating, especially if you’re an immigrant. Lack of connections, financial dependence, cultural and language barriers, and insufficient knowledge of Connecticut immigration laws keep many victims trapped in abusive situations. If the abuser is also the visa sponsor, they can exploit their position of power by threatening their immigrant spouse, partner, or family member with deportation.
If you’re an immigrant suffering from domestic abuse in CT, please know you have legal rights and potential pathways to an abuse-free future in the United States. An immigration attorney can help you create a discreet action plan.
What Counts as Domestic Violence?
According to Connecticut state law, many abusive and controlling behaviors beyond direct physical assault may count as domestic violence. These include:
- Emotional and verbal abuse, like name calling, derogatory remarks, and gaslighting
- Jealous or possessive behavior patterns, such as always demanding to know where you are or checking your contacts
- Financial control, like restricting your access to money or preventing you from working even if you have a legal work permit
- Isolation, like actively limiting your contact with family, friends, or anyone who could support you
- Threats of deportation or taking away custody of your children
Know Your Legal Rights
Regardless of Connecticut immigration laws, like all Connecticut residents, you have the right to:
- Seek a protection order against your abuser.
- Pursue divorce or legal separation, even without your spouse’s consent.
- Claim a share in the marital property if you and your abuser are married.
- Request child custody and child support.
Please don’t take your abuser’s assertions, like “I’ll make sure you are deported” or “You’ll never see your children again” at face value. Consult a knowledgeable immigration attorney for a realistic overview of your legal rights and options.
Important: If you feel you or your children are in immediate danger, don’t hesitate to call 911.
Visa Pathways for Victims of Domestic Violence
If you came to the U.S. under the visa sponsorship of an abusive spouse or family member, fear of deportation might keep you from seeking protection against domestic violence. Please know that even if your abuser withdraws their sponsorship, you may be able to gain legal status in the U.S. through one of these pathways:
- A VAWA self-petition. Under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), you can petition for immigrant classification without your abuser’s knowledge or authorization. If USCIS approves your self-petition, you may become a legal permanent resident.
- Cancellation of removal under VAWA. If you’re already facing removal proceedings, you can apply for a green card through a petition for cancellation of removal under VAWA. To qualify, you must provide evidence of good moral character and show that you suffered from physical violence or extreme cruelty.
- A U visa. U nonimmigrant status (a.k.a., a U visa) could allow you to stay in the U.S. with a legal work permit for up to four years and eventually seek permanent residency.
To qualify for a U visa, you will probably need to cooperate with law enforcement and, if necessary, provide evidence to help the authorities convict the abuser of their offenses.
The Law Offices of James A. Welcome: Discreet Legal Counsel for Immigrants Who Suffer From Domestic Violence
Are you an immigrant suffering from domestic abuse in Connecticut? Contact the Law Offices of James A. Welcome and reach out for help. Our skilled, empathetic team will help you understand Connecticut immigration laws, utilize domestic violence resources that seek to improve the lives of survivors, and build a brighter future in the U.S.
Call 203-753-7300 or contact us online to consult an immigration lawyer in CT.