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International Students and Scholars

Immigration & Visa FAQ for Victims of Sexual & Interpersonal Violence

International students and scholars who have been victims of sexual and interpersonal violence with questions about their immigration and visa status are advised to seek the assistance of an immigration attorney.  This page is a resource to explain certain aspects of the law, but is not a replacement for, and does not constitute, legal advice. Information on legal resources is provided at the bottom for informational purposes; providing these informational resources does not constitute FIT’s endorsement of any attorney you may find as a result of accessing the resources.

I've been a victim of assault, does my immigration status affect my ability to access on-campus resources?

No. Under the law, students and staff who are victims or survivors of sexual and interpersonal violence receive the same rights under Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments (Title IX) and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), regardless of immigration and visa status.

Information about on-campus medical and counseling resources, as well as available accommodations:

Information about the student conduct process:

The College will not treat you differently on the basis of reporting a crime; the College's Sexual Misconduct policy prohibits retaliation.

Can I press criminal charges?

Yes, you may press criminal charges regardless of your immigration status. Information about New York's criminal definitions of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking may be found in FIT's Annual Security Report.

Specific questions about filing charges may be addressed to:

  • NYPD 10th Precinct, 212 741.8211, 230 West 20th Street
  • NYPD Special Victims Liaison Unit, 212 267.RAPE (7273) (phone is answered 24 hours in both English and Spanish, 24 hours) or 646 610.7272

FIT's Department of Public Safety is also available to provide assistance and support when contacting local law enforcement. The Department of Public Safety can be reached at 212 217.7777 or visit Pomerantz Center, Room D442.

Are there specific visa and immigration statuses for victims of crimes?

Yes. For victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking, there may be other visa options, including U and T visas. For specifics, talk to an immigration attorney.

U Visa

  • for victims of substantial physical or mental abuse as the result of certain criminal activity, including sexual abuse, domestic violence, rape, assault, or other related crimes
  • victim/applicant must be a victim of qualifying criminal activity and likely to be helpful to the investigation and/or prosecution of that criminal activity
  • generally valid for four years

For more information, consult an immigration attorney, and visit Victims of Criminal Activity: U Nonimmigrant Status (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services). 

T Visa

  • for victims of human trafficking
  • must comply with reasonable requests from law enforcement for cooperation in investigation or prosecution of trafficking act(s) (unless unable to cooperate because of physical or psychological trauma), and must be able to demonstrate that the victim/applicant would suffer extreme hardship if removed from the United States
  • generally valid for four years

For more information, consult an immigration attorney, and visit Victims of Human Trafficking: T Nonimmigrant Status (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services). 

Is there an office on campus that can provide me additional information?

For students with questions regarding immigration status:

International Student Services
Business and Liberal Arts Center, Room B103
212 217.3700
fit_oisa@fitnyc.edu 

For faculty and staff with questions about immigration status:

Human Resources
333 Seventh Avenue, 16th Floor
212 217.3650
humanresources1@fitnyc.edu

For support and resources for faculty and staff:

Employee Assistance Program
Pomerantz Center, Room DC35
212 217.5600
robin_zarel@fitnyc.edu 

Visa Options

F-1 and J-1 Students and Scholars

  • options for reduced course-load approval due to medical conditions certified by a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist
  • options for, and consequences to, withdrawing from your academic program
  • information about returning to the academic program at a later date, if the student chooses to withdraw
  • options and consequences for accompanying spouses
  • general information on options for changing visa status.
  • general information on U and T visas (referral to a qualified immigration attorney)
  • referral to a qualified attorney

H-1B, O-1, E-3, or TN Employees

  • options for a work leave of absence, and consequences to your immigration status
  • options and consequences for accompanying spouses
  • general information on options for changing visa status (referral to a qualified immigration attorney)
  • general information on U and T visas (referral to a qualified immigration attorney)
  • referral to a qualified immigration attorney

Pending U.S. Permanent residents (green card not yet approved)

  • impact of leaving your employment on your pending employer-sponsored permanent resident application
  • referral to a qualified attorney

What is an immigration lawyer and what do they do?

Immigration lawyers are licensed attorneys who specialize in the field of immigration law. They function as the client's advocate and can represent them before immigration agencies, both in immigration court as well as in filing applications for immigration benefits. The lawyer can give general advice and can discuss immigration options. Like all lawyers, immigration lawyers are required to keep client discussions confidential in accordance with their professional ethical and legal obligations.

Where can I find a local immigration attorney?

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) offers an online Immigration Lawyer Referral Service that can help a student or scholar find an immigration lawyer: AILA Find an Immigration Lawyer Search

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a bureau of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), offers two sites to help individuals find free or low-cost legal representation:

The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) provides a listing of attorneys by state who provide immigration services for free or for little cost: BIA List of Pro Bono Legal Service Providers

The American Bar Association also provides information on finding legal services by state: ABA Find a Lawyer Search

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