Immigration for Victims of Forced Marriage


In just one two-year period, one survey found as many as 3,000 known or suspected cases of forced marriage in the United States. Not all of these marriages had an immigration component; many happen to citizens of the United States.

Nevertheless, the State Department recognizes that forced marriages sometimes cross international lines and offers several immigration benefits to victims. 

The Definition of Forced Marriage

A forced marriage means a marriage with one or more elements of force, fraud, or coercion, and where one or both parties do not or cannot consent to the marriage. Consent means you give your free, full, and informed agreement to marry your intended spouse and to the timing of the marriage. 

While forced marriage disproportionately impacts women and girls, it can happen to individuals of any gender. It can also happen to people of any race, ethnicity, religion, age, immigration status, or natural origin.

A forced marriage is not the same as an arranged marriage. In an arranged marriage, the party’s family may choose the partner, but both partners are free to say no.

Immigration Benefits

Victims of forced marriage may be eligible for six forms of immigration relief, including:

  1. Asylum.
  2. Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) classification. 
  3. Self-petition under the Violence Against Women (VAWA) Act
  4. A waiver of the joint filing requirement based on battery or extreme cruelty for family-based conditional permanent residents.
  5. A T-visa, if the forced marriage also included an element of human trafficking.
  6. A U-visa for victims of certain qualifying crimes.

These forms of immigration exist because the United States government understands that a young person who has been forced to marry someone in the United States may not be able to return home again after freeing herself from the situation. Often, these individuals are cut off from their communities and may face violence or danger if they return. 

Help for Victims of Forced Marriage

Victims who are in immediate danger may call 911 to receive immediate help.

Those who need confidential help may also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. 

Help a Victim of Forced Marriage

Many victims of forced marriage do not have the resources to hire an attorney, but an attorney can still help them with their cases. While it would be nice to think that USCIS immediately extends compassion to these victims, the truth is that a forced marriage case can grow every bit as complex as any other. 

If you or someone you care about are trying to immigrate to the United States on a forced marriage visa, contact Hykel Law today.

See also:

7 Documents You’ll Need for Your Asylum Case

What is the Current Law on Claiming Asylum in the United States

What Are Your Options When You’re Undocumented?

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Employment & Investment Visas

Although it often comes with controversy, immigration into the United States has always played a major role in the strength of its economy. Perhaps no one understands this more than the residents of Philadelphia, where the Liberty Bell still welcomes foreigners to one of the richest historical communities of our country.


Family Visas

Not knowing or understanding the system and laws of the U.S. can be a disadvantage for many foreign immigrants who wish to obtain permanent residency in the United States, either for themselves or for their loved ones. Hykel Law’s Family-Based Immigration Services can lead you through the complicated process to achieve either temporary or permanent residency, depending on your situation.


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Are you afraid of deportation? If you are a foreign national involved in the beginning stages of removal proceedings, the deportation attorney at Hykel Law in Philadelphia can help prevent this unfortunate situation. We can evaluate your immigration case and find the best strategy to defend you from removal proceedings to help you stay in the United States.

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