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What is the VAWA?

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What is the VAWA?

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was passed by the United States Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton on September 13, 1994. The legislation provides many different protections for domestic violence victims. Specifically, under VAWA noncitizens of domestic violence, child abuse or elderly abuse/parent abuse may “self-petition” for a green card without the corporation of their abuser. Victims should never feel trapped in an abusive relationship simply because an abuser has filed a petition seeking an immigration benefit on their behalf.

How to Self-Petitioning for VAWA?

First and most importantly, self-petitioning under VAWA can be done confidentially without any notification being sent to the abuser. The victim must self-petition under VAWA by filing Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant. Form I-360 does not require the abuser’s knowledge or consent. Once the self-petition is approved, and the victim meets all other requirements, the victim can apply to become a lawful permanent resident.

What are the Eligibility Requirements for VAWA?

To qualify for self-petition under the VAWA battered spouse waiver, an applicant must meet the following legal requirements:

  • His or her spouse is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States (if divorced, the self-petition must be filed within two (2) years of the divorce and demonstrate a connection between the divorce and the abuse)
  • His or her marriage to the abusive spouse was in good faith
    He or she lives or lived together with the abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse
  • He or she has good moral character
  • He or she has suffered extreme cruelty or abuse by his or her U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse.

To qualify for VAWA, a self-petitioning child of a lawful permanent resident or U.S. citizen abusive parent must establish:

  • He or she is under the age of 21 and is unmarried
    His or her parent or stepparent is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States
  • He or she resided with the abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident parent or stepparent
  • He or she has good moral character
  • He or she has suffered extreme cruelty or abuse by his or her U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident parent or stepparent

To qualify for VAWA, a self-petitioning parent of a U.S. citizen abusive child must establish:

  • His or her child is a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old
  • He or she resided with the abusive U.S. citizen child
  • He or she has good moral character
  • He or she has suffered extreme cruelty or abuse by his or her U.S. citizen child
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What are the Green Card Eligibility Requirements for a VAWA Self petitioner?

  • The Applicant must file a Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
  • The Applicant must be physically present in the United States at the time the I-485 is filed.
  • The Applicant must be eligible to receive a visa.
  • An immigrant visa is immediately available for the Applicant at the time the I-485 is filed.
  • The Applicant should not have any bars to adjustment of status.
  • The Applicant are admissible to the United States for lawful permanent residence or eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility or other form of relief.
  • The Applicant must merit a favorable exercise of discretion

Does Men Qualify for VAWA?

Despite the name VAWA, the Violence Against Women Act is a gender-neutral law and any gender identity can petition for immigration relief under VAWA. The unfortunate reality is that the legislation was created to protect women because women are disproportionately subjected to domestic abuse. Men are no exception and they too suffer from domestic violence and can seek relief under VAWA.

What Happens after my VAWA Application is submitted?

After USCIS receives the Applicants VAWA application USCIS will make an assessment to determine if the application seems “approvable.”  If the application seems “approvable” USCIS will send out a “Prima Facie Determination” this does not mean your application will be approved or that you will get a green card. USCIS will further thoroughly review your application before deciding. If USCIS is satisfied with the evidence submitted they might approve the case; however, if the application lacks evidence USCIS will send a request for additional evidence. If USCIS approves the Applicant’s I-360 application, the Applicant can submit an I-485 application for a lawful permanent residence. A Prima Facie Determination may qualify an applicant for certain types of public benefits.

What is VAWA cancellation of removal?

VAWA cancellation of removal is a form of relief designed to keep victims of abusive U.S.-citizen or LPR spouses or parents from being deported. A successful VAWA cancellation of removal can result in lawful permanent resident status for the victim.

You are not Alone!

You don’t have to face your abuser alone; we can help you break free from domestic abuse. Our Attorney’s at Lewis law understands the difficulty victims face in these situations. We understand the emotional turmoil associated with this process and wants to make it as seamless as possible for you. If you are an immigrant in an abusive relationship, we are here to help you break free from the abuse.  Call us at 954-530-1717.

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