There can be real consequences to not applying for legal status, like deportation. There are millions of people that would jump at any opportunity to get legal status in the U.S.; I find it incredible that someone who qualifies and knows about it does nothing.
Alberto is married to a U.S. citizen. They have a child together. Two years ago he consulted with me and had me listen to his taped conversations of his wife threatening to have him deported to make sure he doesn´t see their son. She was an alcoholic and would get abusive when she drank. I told him he probably qualifies for the Violence Against Women´s Act (VAWA). It isn’t just for women.
The point of VAWA is that nobody should have to stay in an abusive relationship just to get or keep legal status. His wife could have petitioned for him, but never did. VAWA allows a qualifying victim to apply without the aid or knowledge of the abuser. You don´t need a financial sponsor, like in the normal green card process. VAWA will even forgive your illegal entry into the U.S. and certain non-violent crimes. VAWA is fantastic for those that qualify. Alberto qualified two years ago. Unfortunately, he did nothing.
I told Alberto his wife won’t stop. Someone will eventually call the police, and since his English is less than perfect the odds are against him. He didn’t take my advice. Six months later, he was charged with domestic violence. He didn’t show up in court to fight the Final Restraining Order, which prohibited from having any contact with his wife.
A year after our discussion, Alberto´s wife failed to bring his son to his court ordered visitation. Rather than calling the police. He went to her house. She called the police, and he was charged with trespass and violating a restraining order. He was embarrassed and didn’t call me. He got another attorney. His attorney was unfamiliar with immigration and coincidentally called me. Alberto then hired me to assist in plea negotiations to find a safe harbor that wouldn’t cause immigration consequences. We did. There was no jail time, a minimal fine, and no violation of the restraining order.
I again pleaded with Alberto to fight for his rights. I explained that VAWA is now harder because he is now seen as the abuser, instead of the victim. I begged him to dismiss the Final Restraining Order (FRO), use the trial to show how his wife is really the abuser. Then use that hearing as your proof that he was the victim for purposes of VAWA. He didn’t do it.
A year later, I get a phone call from a court appointed attorney. This attorney got my name from two different sources and asked if I could help his client avoid immigration consequences for a violation of a restraining order. It was Alberto. He got drunk and went to see his son. His wife called the police and this time he got arrested and didn’t get out. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) will almost certainly put him in removal proceedings. Unless he qualifies for VAWA, or something similar, he will be deported.
I can still help him, but his case is even harder now. But with each incident he makes it less likely that anyone will view him as a victim. Now he will likely have to admit he has a drinking problem, get help, rehabilitate and apply for VAWA. I don’t know if we can convince any Judge to remove the FRO without his wife’s help. She is highly unlikely to do so.
This could have been avoided, had he just taken my advice at the beginning. His case is harder and more expensive. Not to mention the criminal defense fees he could have saved.
Don´t wait until you are in immigration custody to find out if you qualify. Get started today.
If you don´t know if you qualify, go to www.QualifyForStatus.com. Fill out the questions and in minutes you will get a report that will tell you if you qualify. If you don´t want to answer questions online call 888-695-6169, or the contact form or chat on this page, and speak to our knowledgeable staff.