Immigration ServicesGulfcoast Legal Services (GLS) is the only legal aid program that provides free legal assistance in immigration cases for eligible low-income individuals residing in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee, and Sarasota Counties. GLS may handle the following types of cases for eligible immigrants:
Domestic-violence related cases: An abused spouse or child of a legal permanent resident or a United States citizen may be able to self-petition for legal status in the United States under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) without his or her abuser’s assistance.
Removal of Conditional Residence: A conditional lawful permanent resident whose spouse is abusive and will not cooperate in removing the conditional status may be able to ask for a waiver of their cooperation.
U Visas: An immigrant who has suffered substantial abuse as the result of having been a victim of certain criminal activity and has been helpful in the investigation or prosecution of that crime may be eligible for a U visa. U visa status allows victims of domestic violence who cannot self-petition under VAWA because they are not married to their abuser, or their abuser is not a legal permanent resident or United States citizen, to obtain legal status.
T Visas: Victims of trafficking in persons may be able to petition for a form of legal status in the United States called a T visa.
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status: Children who have been abused, abandoned or neglected by their parents and no longer live with them may be eligible for special immigrant juvenile status (SIJS). They may obtain legal permanent residency on that basis if it is not in their best interest to return to their native country.
In addition, GLS offers resources for other community agencies and service providers to assist immigrants who are living in fear. GLS is available, upon request, to provide “Know Your Rights” presentations to local groups in settings where immigrants may feel more at ease.