Domestic violence is a widespread problem in our society; all over the world, men, women, and children who are subjected to domestic violence by an abusive family member experience severe trauma. In order to better protect victims of domestic abuse, Congress established the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), particularly in the context of immigration law, which enables abused spouses, parents, and children to break the cycle of battered spouses and domestic violence. Although it is called the Violence Against Women Act, the law applies to men and women equally.
The Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA, offers several protections to immigrant women and men; It was first enacted into law in 1994, and it included provisions that allowed noncitizen victims of domestic violence to seek immigration relief separately from their battered spouse or sponsor by “self-petitioning.” The Battered Immigrant Women Protection Act of 2000 established additional forms of redress for noncitizen victims of violent crime, sexual assault, or human trafficking. When the Violence Against Women Act of 2005 passed in 2005, it expanded these protections even further; the bill also includes some protections for victims of elder abuse.
Who is Eligible for a VAWA Green Card?
If your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse abuses you or your children (who are not married and younger than 21), you are eligible to file a self-petition as a battered spouse. If your child, who is a US citizen, has mistreated you, you can also file a claim. If you haven’t previously included an abused child in your petition and they are under 21 and unmarried, they can file for themselves. Our knowledgeable and compassionate lawyers for domestic violence are here to serve you with experienced legal assistance, assisting you in obtaining the immigration and safety benefits you need.
The Eligibility Requirements for a VAWA Self-Petitioner
The following are the specific requirements you must satisfy to be qualified for a VAWA self-petition:
- You are the battered spouse of a citizen or permanent resident of the United States
- Within two years of filing your self-petition, your abusive U.S. citizen spouse died or you divorced due to the abuse
- Your abusive spouse lost (or renounced) their citizenship or status as a permanent resident within two years before you filed your self-petition due to domestic violence
- You found out that your abusive spouse was a bigamist and that your marriage was invalid. Otherwise, you believed your marriage was legitimate
- During your marriage, you were subjected to violence or extreme cruelty at the hands of your spouse
- You are a person of good character, and you married your spouse in good faith, not to circumvent immigration laws
- When filing a self-petition while residing outside of the United States, you must further show that:
- You were subjected to abuse or severe cruelty in the United States, or your abusive spouse or relative worked for the U.S. government or was a soldier in the U.S
If you’ve been the victim of domestic or family abuse, even if it occurred outside of the United States, consider reaching out to an experienced family law attorney at Gehi & Associates; we can help provide immigration relief and help you obtain your green card so that you can free yourself from the abuse.
It is important that you understand that even if your Form I-360 is approved, it doesn’t give you or your children immigration status. It makes you and your children eligible to apply for green cards. Working with an experienced lawyer for domestic violence is in your best interests; our family law attorney can walk you through the procedure and assist you with all of the documents you’ll need to submit your self-petition and the supporting evidence you’ll need to include.