An AI Justice attorney met Maria, who was from Venezuela, at the Lodge (a domestic violence shelter), where Maria was receiving services. She had endured horrific domestic violence at the hands of her spouse, who was a lawful permanent resident. Her husband had filed an application for her residency, but when he did not attend the interview with immigration authorities with her, the application was denied. Maria finally gained the courage to leave her husband after he violently raped her.

Maria filed a thorough VAWA self-petition on her own, including extreme details regarding her abuse, photographs of her extensive injuries, and a mountain of evidence to support her application. When Maria first met her AI Justice attorney, she was very distressed because she had received a notice from the Immigration Service that they intended to deny her VAWA self-petition, and to begin deportation proceedings. Her attorney made a successful request for cancellation of plans to commence deportation proceedings, importantly avoiding another stressful experience for the already-traumatized Maria. In addition, the attorney responded to the intent to deny the petition, pointing out the errors in the notice and the Immigration Service’s failure to consider the strong evidence that Maria had submitted. Within one week of filing the response, the Immigration Service reversed course and approved Maria’s self-petition, and Maria became a lawful permanent resident. She is now on a path to independence that would have been impossible without the help of an AI Justice attorney to ensure that she was able to assert her rights.