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You may be eligible for a self-petitioned green card

Many immigrants who come to New York to live arrive with green cards they obtained when family members or employers sponsored them. Perhaps you are already in the United States but are not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident -- there are certain situations where you could file your own petition for a green card. Unfortunately, the main issue that generally creates eligibility in this area is domestic violence. If you're a victim, you may be able to request permanent residency or U Visa protection.

The Violence Against Women Act includes a provision that allows you to self-petition rather than acquire a sponsor for a green card. Even if you're not currently staying in the United States, but were here when the abuse took place and suffered abuse at the hands of a U.S. citizen, you may still be eligible.

How would self-petitioning for a green card benefit you?

There are many benefits to obtaining a green card; so, filing your own petition may be helpful in one or more of the following ways:

  • You would not have to worry about possible deportation because you'd receive permanent status -- providing you don't do anything to warrant your removal.
  • With a green card, you'd gain Social Security benefits rights.
  • As a legal permanent resident of the United States, you would obtain protection under all federal, state and local laws.
  • You would have the ability to leave and re-enter the United States at any time.
  • You could fulfill your dreams of owning a business or working in some other occupation in your community because your green card would give you the right to seek gainful income in New York or anywhere else in the nation.
  • You could apply for citizenship.

Whether you are a spouse, a parent or an unmarried child under age 21, if your U.S. citizen family member abused you, you may be eligible for a domestic violence green card depending on the particulars of your situation. The U Visa program is similar because it offers status protection; however, it is not specifically domestic-violence related and it is temporary. When your U Visa expires, you must apply for renewal.

Many people can help you if you're living in an abusive situation. From licensed counselors to ministers and immigration advocates, you can reach out for support to protect yourself and seek justice.

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