Ask the Lawyer

Raquel L. Bellamy

Question: I am here undocumented from a foreign country, and my U.S. citizen husband keeps threatening to deport me if I report that he is beating me up. Is it true that he can have me deported? What can I do?

Your situation is not uncommon. Often, undocumented immigrants marry U.S. citizens only to find themselves in abusive situations. This is why federal laws permit victimized spouses to self-petition for their immigration status. You should know that even if you are here illegally, you do not have to live with domestic violence.

Federal immigration laws provide ways for an individual to obtain immigration benefits, which would allow him/her to stay in the United States legally. One such way is by filing a VAWA self-petition. Your husband’s threats to deport you if you report his abuse are efforts to control you to make you believe that there is no help for you. Because of your husband’s abuse, you may be entitled to remain in the United States legally. The filing of the VAWA self-petition will allow you to obtain a work permit and even a Green Card if you prove certain things regarding your relationship with your husband: including that you got married in good faith, you have suffered abuse, you are a good person, and your husband is indeed a U.S. citizen. There is a lot of paper work needed to file such an application. Although you may be able to do this on your own, it would probably be best to hire an attorney to help you. There are all sorts of legal issues that may arise depending on how you got into the United States and if you have a criminal history or health issues. The availability of the VAWA self-petition means that your husband is not telling you the truth.

Depending on your circumstances, you may have other immigration remedies available to you. Therefore, you should seriously consider consulting an attorney.

This article is not attended to provide you with legal advice, you should consult an attorney to help you.

You can reach Raquel L. Bellamy, attorney, at Bellamy Law Group, 5515 Edmondson Pike, Suite 119-B, Nashville, Tenn. 37211; or 615-636-5781.  Email: