The child who has been abused is eligible for a green card
The Violence Against Women Act is not just for women. Children may benefit from this law, too. A child who has been the victim of abuse by a Lawful Permanent Resident or United States citizen parent (or step-parent) may obtain legal permanent residency (a green card). The child must be unmarried, under the age of 21, resided with the abuser, and battered or subjected to extreme mental cruelty.
The child of an abuse victim is eligible for a green card
Children who were not directly abused may still benefit as a derivative of their parent’s Violence Against Women Act application. Although the derivative must be under 21 years of age, there are exceptions for those who “age out.”
Children who are dependents of the state are eligible for a green card
The Special Immigrant Juvenile Status is a two-step process. First, children must prove in a family dependency hearing that they have been neglected, abused, or abandoned by their parents. Next, if the judge issues an order declaring them a dependant of the state, they can file an application for legal permanent residency with Immigration.
The child victim of a crime may be eligible for legal status
U Visas provide temporary legal status. Child victims of qualifying crimes, such as abuse (resulting in substantial physical or mental suffering), can obtain that status. The victims must possess reliable information relating to the crime, and are helping, have helped, or are likely to help the government in prosecuting the criminal. Children under 16 years of age need not possess significant information. A parent or guardian with substantial knowledge can assist on their behalf.
Additional resources provided by the author
A child who has been the victim of abuse should solicit the help of an experienced immigration attorney to determine which of these options is best. Although the author is a Board-certified immigration attorney, this communication is intended as general information and not specific legal advice, and this communication does not create an attorney-client relationship. Consultation with an experienced competent immigration attorney is the best way to address individual concerns. Additional information is available at the web site of USCIS.GOV under “Battered Spouse, Children, and Parents”.