Children, spouses and parents of an abusive United States citizen may apply for an immigrant visa petition. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Immigration and Nationality Act combined with the Violence Against Women Act protects the applicant from notifying the abuser when they apply. If the petition is approved, the person applying may be eligible for a green card.
There are eligibility requirements for each type of applicant. A spouse may be married to an abuser who is a United States citizen, or had the marriage terminated by divorce or death within two years before the filing. If there has been extremely cruelty or battery to a child or the spouse by the United States citizen spouse, they have been abused by them and they entered the marriage for more than immigration benefits, they are eligible to apply as a spouse.
Children must have a qualifying child/parent relationship, suffered extremely cruelty or battery by a parent who is a United States citizen and have lived with the abusive parent. Any child under the age of 14 is assumed to be of good character and anyone above that age must be considered the same.
Parents must have a qualifying parent/daughter or son relationship and be the parents of a citizen of the United States over 21 years of age when the petition is filed. They could also be the parents of a citizen who renounced or lost citizenship because of an incident of domestic violence. They must have lived with the abusive child, be of good moral character and suffered serious abuse or cruelty by the citizen child.
Those without solid immigration status are often victims of domestic violence, but they have the right to live safe from abuse. According to The National Domestic Violence Hotline, an abuser may use children, economic abuse, manipulations regarding residency or citizenship, intimidation, threats or isolation to maintain control over the abused. An immigration attorney can help with the process of filing for protection.