Center provides tools to help immigrant survivors of domestic abuse

July 17, 2012

Advocates and attorneys who work with victims of domestic violence need to understand the dynamics of power and control and how they affect the safety of their clients. This understanding is especially important in working with noncitizen victims who often face additional hurdles compared to American citizens. The Center for Immigrants’ Rights has published “Immigration Relief for Victims of Domestic Violence and Abuse,” a toolkit to help practitioners in representing immigrant victims of domestic abuse.

Prepared for the Centre County Women’s Resource Center’s Civil Legal Representation Project (CLRP), the division of the Centre County Women’s Resource Center (CCWRC) that provides legal advice and representation to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in family law matters, the toolkit outlines remedies available specifically for noncitizen victims.

Under the supervision of Professor Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, the center’s director, students Rebecca Ternes and Elham Sadri researched related legal standards and secondary sources, and collected information and insights through interviews with seasoned immigration attorneys and advocates. The toolkit includes information about the following remedies: the U visa, T visa, VAWA self-petition, VAWA cancellation of removal, and prosecutorial discretion. Specifically, it contains an analysis of the substantive materials on these subjects, including relevant statutes, regulations, agency memoranda, and secondary sources.

Additional training opportunity

On Sept. 7, 2012, the Center for Immigrants’ Rights and CLRP will be co-sponsoring “Immigration Remedies for Victims of Domestic Abuse,” an in depth Continuing Legal Education program featuring immigration and domestic violence experts about the laws relating to U visa, T visa, and VAWA protections. The program will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Greg Sutliff Auditorium at the Lewis Katz Building, University Park, Pa., and be simulcast to Carlisle, Pa. For more information on the program, visit

“We are grateful to the Center for Immigrants’ Right for their hard work on such an important project. The toolkit will be very useful in helping us better meet the needs of immigrant victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse and stalking,” said Justine Andronici, director of the CLRP. “We look forward to continue working with the center and are excited about the additional training that will be provided for attorneys and advocates during the September CLE program.”

CCWRC is a nonprofit organization located in State College, Pa., that offers a range of services, including emergency shelter, counseling, advocacy, transitional housing, and legal services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Launched in 2008, Penn State Law’s Center for Immigrants’ Rights is an immigration policy clinic where students work on innovative advocacy and policy projects relating to U.S. immigration, primarily through the representation of immigrant advocacy organizations.

Review a public version of the toolkit.

  • Clinical Professor Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia in Penn State Law

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated July 22, 2015