Among the most vulnerable in the immigrant community are undocumented victims of crime, including domestic violence and human trafficking. The domestic violence victim is entitled by law to immigrant visas. However, these victims are dependent upon their abusers to access the system. Their abusers refuse to help them with the process, often threatening their victims with deportation and separation from family. So terrorized are these victims of violence that they avoid seeking law enforcement and emergency medical services that could protect them. They live in the shadows of society, alienated by language, poverty, culture, and fear.
In 1994, the U.S. Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act permitting abused immigrant women and children to apply for visas without the cooperation of their abusers, but this remedial legislation is oftentimes practicably inaccessible to those who need it most. Applications for relief require English. Evidence must be gathered, reproduced, and translated. Legal issues must be resolved, and even more fundamentally, these victims must be identified and encouraged to seek help.
The U visa, which was created by the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act in October 2000, is available to immigrant victims of violent crime (including domestic violence) who cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation and/or prosecution of the crime. The U Visa authorizes an indefinite stay in the U.S. and employment authorization.
Although both forms of relief are a major development in the law, they are inaccessible without legal assistance.
If you have been a victim of domestic violence or a serious crime, have been forced to work or provide services but did not receive the payment or treatment at the job you had agreed to, or if you were not paid the minimum wage required in California, you may qualify for immigration relief. To apply for a free, confidential consultation with a Casa Cornelia attorney, you will find instructions here. You may download an application here or request an application by emailing Services@CasaCornelia.org. For any questions, please call our office at 619-231-7788.
Victims of Crime Program
Casa Cornelia responds to the urgent needs of undocumented victims of violent crimes by providing free legal representation to assist them with their visa petitions, empowering them to leave abusive relationships, achieve economic independence, regain their self-esteem and begin a new life for themselves and their children.