Frequently Asked Questions
Read frequently asked questions about our direct services.
Need help now? Find contact information here.
Q: What type of requests for assistance does Tahirih accept?
A: Service seeker requests must primarily involve the legal protection of immigrant women and girls from violence or persecution. We represent clients in asylum, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, VAWA self-petition, U visa, and T visa cases. We also have a Forced Marriage Initiative to assist individuals facing or fleeing forced marriage in the United States or abroad. While we strive to serve as many survivors we can, we cannot always accept cases, even if they are eligible, due to limited resources.
Q: I want to determine if I am, or if someone I know is, eligible for legal assistance through Tahirih. What should I do?
A: Please follow our designated intake procedures, which are listed here.
Q: Can men and boys receive assistance through Tahirih?
A: Tahirih defines gender-based violence as any harmful threat or act (physical, emotional, psychological, or sexual) directed at an individual or group based on sex, gender identity and/or expression, sexual orientation, and/or lack of adherence to socially constructed norms around masculinity and femininity. Although the overwhelming majority of victims of gender-based violence are women and girls, Tahirih’s work also includes the defense of men and boys, when they are themselves targets of gender-based violence or defending others who are so targeted. Tahirih adopts an inclusive approach by including people who identify as transgender, non-binary, cisgender, and LGBTQIA+ as it defends their right to be free from gender-based violence.
Q: How does one become eligible for social services, such as food and shelter, through Tahirih?
A: Once a service seeker is accepted for legal representation, social services case management is available.
Q: What are some steps I can take to keep myself, or my friend, safe during the process of seeking help?
A: Be aware that your communications can be monitored. This can include emails, texts, phone calls, and Internet use. We encourage all of our clients to conceal information about research they have done and contacts they have made in an effort to get help. We urge clients to:
- Create an anonymous email account that no one knows about in order to communicate safely when reaching out for help.
- Only use a device that you solely control, and avoid shared devices such as family computers and cell phones on a family plan.
- Consider using a secret, pre-paid phone or accessing computers at school or the library, which can be a safer way to communicate.
Q: What are some basic immigration rules for advocates working with non-citizen survivors of violence?
A: Please tell non-citizens with questions about their immigration status to talk to a licensed immigration attorney or an accredited immigration non-profit with expertise in domestic violence. Notify non-citizens of their rights when encountering immigration authorities. More information on the legal rights of immigrants are available in this American Bar Association “Know Your Rights” video.
Q: What is the Violence Against Women Act, and how might it help a survivor of domestic abuse?
A: For many immigrant victims of domestic violence, battery and extreme cruelty, the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident family members who sponsor their applications for legal status in the U.S. will threaten to withhold legal immigration sponsorship as a tool of abuse. The purpose of the VAWA program is to allow victims the opportunity to “self-petition” or independently seek legal immigration status in the U.S. apart from an abusive spouse, parent, or child.
Q: Can a woman who is no longer with her abuser self-petition under VAWA?
A: Yes. Women who are divorced, widowed, or remarried may still be eligible to self-petition under VAWA, but time limits (usually of two years) may apply. More information is available here.
Q: I am or I know a woman who is not a U.S. citizen, but her children are U.S. citizens. Are they eligible for public benefits just like other citizen children?
A: Yes. The Department of Health and Human Services does not need to know a person’s immigration status in order to give benefits to her children. If a mother is undocumented, she does not have to reveal her immigration status to department officers when applying for benefits on behalf of her children, even if asked.
Q: What types of immigration relief can apply to survivors of human trafficking, domestic violence, or other gender based violence?
A: T visas, a temporary nonimmigrant status, are available to victims of human trafficking; U visas are available to victims of domestic violence and other serious crimes; VAWA self-petitions are available to spouses, parents, or children of abusers; and asylum is available to individuals fleeing the threat of violence on return to a home country.
Q: I see survivor stories on your website from former clients. How do you ensure the safety of your clients, and can I expect my information to be kept confidential?
A: The Tahirih Justice Center protects the confidentiality, privacy, and safety of all persons receiving services. It is our foremost concern. Client “stories,” like those featured on our website, are powerful tools for advocating for our clients and immigrant survivors in similar circumstances. Whenever we share client stories, we have received direct permission from the client to do so. Tahirih will never disclose, reveal, or release any personally identifying information or individual information collected in connection with our services without the informed, written consent of the client, unless required to do so by statutory or court mandate. We may change details and names to further protect client privacy and safety and use stock photography. Client sensitivity to and comfort level with the sharing of information can and frequently does change over time. We will remove client information from this website at the direction of the client at their instruction immediately.