Battered Spouse Petition (VAWA)
Through the Violence Against Women Act, the Immigration and Nationality Act allows abused spouses, children, and parents, to self-petition for an immigrant visa as victims of abuse, and without their abuser’s knowledge. Despite the name, VAWA applies equally to male victims as well as women.
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The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of the INA allows certain victims of domestic violence to seek refuge and independence from their abuser. This amendment is permanent, never requires reauthorization by Congress, and is meant to help women and men equally.
As the battered spouse, child, or parent of a United States citizen, or the spouse or child of a green card holder, you could be eligible to petition for yourself without your abuser ever being notified.
Who is Eligible?
As a spouse, you could be eligible to self-petition if you or your child have endured physical abuse or exceptional cruelty from an abusive U.S. citizen or green card holder spouse. Provided you married your spouse in good faith, you have lived with your spouse, and you are someone of upstanding moral character, you may qualify even if:
- The abusive marriage ended due to death or divorce (because of the abuse) within 2 years of your filing the petition, or
- Your abuser lost or gave up his or her citizenship or residency because of domestic violence within 2 years of your filing the petition, or
- The marriage was not legitimate due to your spouse’s bigamy, as long as you believed you were legally married.
As a child, you could be eligible to self-petition if you have endured physical abuse or exceptional cruelty at the hands of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident parent. Provided you have lived with that parent and are someone of good moral character (children under age 14-years are assumed to be), you may qualify even if your abusive parent lost citizenship or residency because of an act of domestic violence.
As a parent, you could be eligible to self-petition if you have endured physical abuse or exceptional cruelty at the hands of a U.S. citizen son or daughter (offspring). Provided you have lived with your abusive offspring who is aged 21-years or older and a U.S. citizen, and you are someone of upstanding moral character, you may qualify even if:
- Your U.S. citizen offspring lost or gave up their citizenship because of an act of domestic violence, or
- Your U.S. citizen offspring who was 21-years or older died within the 2 years preceding your petition.
What is a VAWA self petitioner?
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) allows battered immigrants to petition for legal status without relying on abusive U.S.citizen or legal permanent resident spouses, parents or children to sponsor their Adjustment of Status applications.
Should You Apply for a U Visa or for VAWA?
If you are the victim of a violent or serious crime, determining which of these immigration categories is the best match for you given your circumstances can be difficult. U.S. immigration law provides visas allowing victims of crimes to stay in or even come to the U.S. and testify or otherwise assist in law enforcement efforts:
- the “U” visa for victims of serious crimes
- the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petition for abused spouses and certain parents and children of U.S. citizens and permanent residents.
if you are the victim of domestic violence, you may be eligible for either a U visa or the VAWA self-petition.
How long does VAWA take to be approved?
USCIS doesn’t provide a timeline, it can generally take anywhere from 6 months to 24 months to approve
How long does it take to get an interview for asylum?
Beginning on January 29, 2018, the Immigration Department for Asylum (USCIS Citizenship and Immigration Service Group) will give priority to the newest applications when assigning interviews.
Such a change in the schedule of interviews will make it possible to weed out those applicants who use groundless statements and try to use this process solely to obtain a work permit and will enable the USCIS to immediately identify such persons and begin the process of their deportation. In reality, the new Priority will allow the USCIS to make decisions on qualified asylum seekers more quickly and efficiently.
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The VAWA process is very complicated, so the best chance of success comes by working with an experienced immigration attorney. We are highly experienced in US immigration law. Our attorneys, translators and support staff will work with you individually to give you the best chance of success possible. We know how difficult and heart wrenching the VAWA process can be, and we will be with you every step of the way.
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