Can a battered spouse, children & parents use VAWA to get permanent residency or a green card?

What is VAWA?

Violence against Women Act  (“VAWA”) allows qualifying spouses, children and parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents (green card holders) to file a petition for themselves without the abuser’s knowledge.

Can a battered spouse, child or parent self-petition to USCIS to obtain a green card?

Yes. As a battered spouse, child or parent, you may file an immigrant visa petition under VAWA.  This will allow you to seek both safety and independence from the abuser since his input is not sought by USCIS on any part of the process. The provisions of VAWA apply equally to women and men. Your abuser will not be notified that you have filed for immigration benefits under VAWA and you may designate an address, usually your attorney’s office, where all mail will be sent.

How do I know if I am eligible to file a petition under VAWA?

* Spouse: You may file for yourself if you are, or were, the abused spouse of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. You may also include on your petition your unmarried children who are under 21 if they have not filed for themselves.

* Parent: You may file for yourself if you are the parent of a child who has been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse. You may include on your petition your children, including those who have not been abused, if they have not filed for themselves. You may also file if you are the parent of a U.S. citizen, and your U.S. citizen son or daughter has abused you.

* Child: You may file for yourself if you are an abused child under 21, unmarried and have been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent. Your children may also be included on your petition. You may file for yourself as a child after age 21 but before age 25 if you can demonstrate that the abuse was the main reason for the delay in filing.

What are the eligibility requirements for a spouse?

A) Your legal relationship to the abuser is one of the following:

married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident abuser, or

your marriage to the abuser was terminated by death or a divorce (related to the abuse) within the 2 years prior to filing, or

your spouse lost or renounced citizenship or permanent resident status within the 2 years prior to filing due to an incident of domestic violence, or

you believed that you were legally married to your abusive U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse but the marriage was not legitimate solely because of the bigamy of your abusive spouse.

B) The abuse you suffered needs to be as follows: You

have been abused in the United States by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, or

have been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse abroad while your spouse was employed by the U.S. government or a member of the U.S. uniformed services, or

are the parent of a child who has been subjected to abuse by your U.S. citizen or permanent spouse.

In addition,

C) You entered into the marriage in good faith, not solely for immigration benefits.

D) You have resided with your spouse.

E)  You are a person of good moral character.

What are the eligibility requirements for a child?

You:

are the child of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident abuser

were the child of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident abuser who lost citizenship or lawful permanent resident status due to an incident of domestic violence

have been abused in the United States by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent

have been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent abroad while your parent was employed by the U.S. government or a member of the U.S. uniformed services

have resided with the abusive parent

have evidence to prove your relationship to your parent

must provide evidence of good moral character if you are over the age of 14

What are the eligibility requirements for a parent?

You are the parent of a U.S. citizen son or daughter or were the parent of a U.S. citizen son or daughter who lost or renounced citizenship status related to an incident of domestic violence or died within 2 years prior to filing

You have been abused by your U.S. citizen son or daughter

You have resided with the abusive son or daughter

You are a person of good moral character

Filing Process

You must complete the Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, including all supporting documentation

You must file the form with the Vermont Service Center (VSC)

You need to strictly comply with various filing requirements and supply information as requested or your case can be dismissed. The process of applying for the green card varies with certain circumstances.

You can be assured of strict confidentiality when you call attorney Rose H. Robbins for a free consultation to discuss your options. We have extensive experience in helping abused family members and understand the special concerns involved in this frightening situation. The Law Offices of Rose H. Robbins represents clients all over the United States and all over the world.  Please call us at: (954) 946-8130 to schedule your free telephone consultation.  This is a FREE consultation and you will not be charged for this call.

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