For almost everyone wanting U.S. permanent legal status, life is made a lot easier if it is possible to obtain your residency card within the United States. The process of doing so is called "Adjustment of Status." Yet, for those who have entered the United States without permission, their unlawful entry often times makes them ineligible to obtain their residency within the USA. Moreover, multiple unlawful entries into the USA after April 1997 almost always permanently bars a person from obtaining their residence.
The US federal government has created a special exception for victims of abuse who have had one or more unlawful entries. The petition for victims of abuse, Form I-360 under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)*, is available to spouses and children of US Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents. The special exception enables a person who has entered the USA without permission and who would normally only be eligible to obtain residency through the U.S. consulate, to instead, file for their residency within the USA. The ability to file for residency within the USA is not only more convenient, but also helps prevent the individual from initiating certain time bars upon departure from the USA to consulate process their case abroad. Moreover, if the individual has had several unlawful entries following April 1997, and it can be shown that those unlawful entries are connected to the abuse, the individual can avoid the permanent bar to residency by submitting a waiver. In summary, it is possible for applicants who entered the USA without inspection to adjust status in the USA under certain circumstances as a victim of spousal/parent abuse.
*The VAWA petition is available to both male and female victims of spousal/child abuse.