Interpersonal and Domestic Violence Project

Violence Against Women

We provide legal assistance for women and men who qualify for immigration benefits under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) because they have been abused by a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse. HIAS Pennsylvania provides on-site outreach to domestic violence shelters in Philadelphia, Chester County and the Lehigh Valley. We accept referrals from throughout Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware. HIAS Pennsylvania partners with pro bono attorneys at Dechert, LLP to provide free legal assistance for VAWA applicants.


Why Immigrant Victims Need Specialized Services

Being undocumented can add layers of complexity to an already fragile and dangerous situation. Abusers can threaten deportation if the victim reports the abuse or tries to leave the relationship, or refuse to sponsor their spouses for lawful permanent status or work authorization, forcing the victim to be totally economically dependent. Immigrant victims face severe isolation, often don’t speak English and have no familiarity with the U.S. legal or protective system. By providing immigration legal services that leads to lawful status, we help victims escape from their abusers, live independently, and provide a healthy environment for themselves and their children.


U Visa Project

We provide assistance in obtaining a visa for immigrants who have been a victim of a crime and are willing to assist law enforcement in the investigation of that crime. HIAS Pennsylvania works with various agencies who work with victims of crime and domestic violence, including the Domestic Violence Center of Chester County, Turning Point of Lehigh Valley, Berks Women In Crisis, and Victim/Witness Services of South Philadelphia. HIAS Pennsylvania partners with pro bono attorneys at Ballard Spahr LLP to provide free legal assistance for immigrant crime victims.

HIAS Pennsylvania may be able to provide legal representation to immigrant survivors of domestic violence or violent crime. If you are a domestic violence advocate or victim assistance advocate and have a client who needs legal assistance with an immigration matter, fill out the Survivor of Violence Referral Form and fax it to Stephanie Costa at (215)832-0919 or


Get answers to some frequently asked questions

For links to other organizations serving victims of domestic violence and abuse, click here.


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