How NYC Is Helping Immigrant Survivors Of Domestic Violence

Sandra, an undocumented immigrant, arrived in the United States in 2012 and has been in an abusive relationship for the last three years. After learning about resources for domestic violence survivors in New York City, Sandra finally sought help at an NYC Family Justice Center and learned about an immigration remedy called a U-visa. With the help of a Family Justice Center attorney, she submitted her application and received a temporary immigration status that allows her to receive benefits.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and in a city of 3 million immigrants including many others like Sandra, we want to highlight some of the ways in which New York City and our community partners have worked together to address the needs of immigrant survivors of violence. Under the leadership of Mayor de Blasio, the City has prioritized developing resources for immigrant victims of crime, regardless of immigration status, because we know that doing so supports public safety and strengthens our communities.

As Commissioners of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) and the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence (OCDV), we have worked together to increase access to U and T visas. These federal immigration visas protect immigrant victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, human trafficking, and other serious crimes, who are helpful to a law enforcement investigation or prosecution. Each visa has several eligibility requirements and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a branch of the Department of Homeland Security, is the only agency with the authority to provide either immigration status.

Receiving a U or T visa can be life-changing for immigrant survivors of domestic violence because it protects them from deportation, and allows them to work lawfully in the U.S. and apply for many public benefits. These visas also strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute serious crimes.

By Cecile Noel & Nisha Agarwal for THE HUFFINGTON POST
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