Immigrant Victims of Domestic Violence and Trafficking

Updated November 2020   Fact Sheet PDF


In 1996, Congress passed a law prohibiting any organization that receives Legal Services Corporation (LSC) funding from providing legal assistance to undocumented immigrants.


This law has since been amended to allow LSC funded organization to serve a broader pool of non-citizens, including victims of domestic violence and human trafficking.


Under the amended regulations, eligible immigrant clients include lawful permanent residents (i.e., green card holders), lawful conditional residents, immigrants who have been admitted as refugees or granted asylum, immigrants who have filed an application for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident, and victims of certain crimes, including domestic violence and human trafficking.



The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) 2006 amended the federal regulations to allow LSC funded organizations to use both LSC and non-LSC funds to represent victims of abuse who would otherwise be ineligible for legal services because of their immigration status.


LSC-funded organizations may do all of the following:

  • provide legal services that are “directly related” to the prevention of, or obtaining relief from, battery, cruelty, sexual assault, or trafficking
  • provide “directly related legal assistance” to an undocumented victim of domestic violence regardless of whether he or she is married to his or her abuser
  • provide “directly related legal assistance” to victims of certain criminal activity who qualify for a U-visa



Legal aid organizations may provide “directly related legal assistance” to persons covered by the VAWA 2006 amend­ments. This includes assistance to help the affected client or child escape from domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking, or other covered criminal activity, to ameliorate the effects of the violence, or to prevent future victimization.



  • represent in obtaining an Order of Protection to protect the client from abuse
  • represent in a broad range of family law issues, including divorce, custody, child support, and paternity cases
  • represent to secure public benefits, housing, or medical or income assistance, so that the client is no longer financially dependent on the abuser
  • grant access to immigration remedies, including VAWA self-petitions, battered spouse waivers and T- and U-visas



  • orders of protection: available to victims of domestic violence regardless of immigration status
  • prenatal care: available to all women in Arkansas, regardless of immigration status
  • Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act: persons without health insurance are protected from being denied life-saving medical treatment
  • Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC): care regardless of immigration status or ability to pay, and it help fills the gap for many sexual assault and domestic violence victims who cannot otherwise access health care services; Health Centers that receive FQHC grants must provide basic health services and services that ensure access to basic health and social services

This fact sheet is a collaboration of the Center for Arkansas Legal Services and Legal Aid of Arkansas, Inc. These nonprofit organizations provide free legal assistance to eligible Arkansans who meet income, asset, and other guidelines. Legal assistance may also include advice and counsel, brief services, or full representation depending on the situation. For more information about civil legal aid in Arkansas, please visit For information specific to Legal Aid of Arkansas, Inc., visit Apply for services online or by calling 1-800-9-LAW-AID (1-800-952-9243).
The information and statements of law in this fact sheet should not be considered legal advice. This fact sheet is provided as a broad guide to help you understand how certain legal matters are handled in general. Courts may interpret the law differently. Before you take action, talk to an attorney and follow his or her advice. Always do what the court tells you to do.
Content provided by: Legal Aid of Arkansas, Inc.


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