If a U.S. immigrant is trapped in an abusive relationship, they might be worried about reporting the abuse to the authorities. Many immigrants are concerned that they might lose their status and be deported out of the United States. Here’s what immigrants can do if they’re experiencing abuse and haven’t been granted permanent residency.

What can U.S. immigrants do if they’re trapped in an abusive relationship?

If they recently married their abusive spouse, their green card might still have conditional residency attached. They can self-petition to have the conditional residency removed if they can prove that they married their spouse out of love and not out of a desire to become a U.S. citizen. If they’re successful, they receive permanent residency and can leave their spouse without fear of being deported.

Undocumented immigrants can self-petition for a work permit if they meet the criteria outlined by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). They might be eligible for a self-petition if they’re married an abusive spouse, their spouse is abusing their child, they were married to the abuser within the past two years, their parents are abusing them or they’re the parent of an abusive child.

An undocumented immigrant can also apply for a U-visa if they were a victim of sexual assault, domestic violence or sexual exploitation and are willing to cooperate with law enforcement. If their self-petition is successful, they receive a four-year work permit. Individuals who need assistance with a self-petition might wish to hire an attorney experienced in immigration law.

Where can immigrants find assistance with legal issues?

United States immigrants have the right to hire an attorney if they need help with a case. An attorney might be able to assist their client with applying for a green card, bringing their family members to the country, applying for a U-visa and appealing if their application is denied.