Do you have a friend, family member, or acquaintance who is an abused spouse, child, or parent? Unfortunately, instances of violence within the home are all too prevalent.
You have the right to file a petition for an immigrant visa as a battered spouse, child, or parent in accordance with the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which was amended by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
To Begin, What Exactly is VAWA?
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which was initially enacted in 1994, is a federal law that was initially passed in the United States that both recognized domestic violence and sexual assault as crimes, as well as provided resources to support the investigation and prosecution of such crimes against women. In addition to being able to benefit from VAWA under the INA, immigrant women and children can also benefit from the INA, which allows them to file immigrant visa petitions for themselves.
The Act, which was reauthorized in 2013, now allows certain spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizens, as well as certain spouses and children of permanent residents (Green Card holders), to file a petition for themselves, without the abuser's knowledge. In addition, the Act allows certain spouses and children of permanent residents (Green Card holders) to file a petition for themselves. Because of this, abused immigrants are able to seek safety and independence from their abusers in secret without having to worry about the perpetrators finding out.
To Whom Does the VAWA Apply?
The provisions of the VAWA, which are included in the INA, apply equally to men and women, immigrants, and citizens. You may submit a claim under the VAWA if you meet one of the following criteria:
- You are eligible to register for yourself as a spouse if you are or were the abused spouse of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident at any point in your life. In the event that your child has been the victim of abuse at the hands of your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, you also have the option of filing a claim under the category of an abused spouse. You have the option to include on your petition any of your unmarried children who are under the age of 21 as long as they have not filed for themselves.
- You are eligible to file if you are the parent of a United States citizen and you have been mistreated by your United States citizen son or daughter.
- You are eligible to petition for yourself if you are a child who has been abused and you are under the age of 21, unmarried, and you have been mistreated by a parent who is a citizen of the United States or a permanent resident. You are free to add your children to your petition as well. You may also file for yourself as a child after the age of 21, but before the age of 25, if you can establish that the abuse was the primary cause for the delay in registering for protection as a kid.
Requirements for a Spouse to Qualify for Benefits Under VAWA
- You are married to an abuser who is a citizen of the United States or a permanent resident of the United States, you entered the marriage in good faith (not merely for immigration advantages), you have resided with your spouse, you are a person of good moral character, and o Your marriage to the abuser ended within the two years prior to the date you filed your petition either because of death or a divorce that was a direct result of the abuse, or
- Your spouse was a victim of domestic abuse during the two years prior to the filing of your petition, and as a result, they either renounced their citizenship or citizenship was taken away from them.
- You believed that you were lawfully married to your abusive U.S. citizen or permanent resident husband, but the marriage was invalid only due to the fact that your abusive spouse had a previous marriage to another woman.
- Your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse has committed an act of violence or serious cruelty against you or your child.
Eligibility for Children
- You were abused as a child by a parent who is a United States citizen or a permanent resident; or
o You were abused as a child by a parent who is a United States citizen or a permanent resident who, as a result of domestic violence, lost his or her citizenship or legal permanent residence statues; and
- Your parent is a United States citizen or a permanent resident and you have been the victim of violence or extreme cruelty at the hands of your parent, and:
- You have lived with your abusive parent
- You have a good moral character and are an upstanding citizen. It is presumed that a child who is younger than 14 years old is a person with good moral character.
Note: A person who files for oneself is regarded to be a child if they are under the age of 21, however you can file under the Act as a child until you are 25 years old if you can show that the abuse was the primary cause for the delay in filing.
Eligibility for Parents
- You are the parent of a son or daughter who was born in the United States and is at least 21 years old at the time that the self-petition is filed, or:
- You are the parent of a United States citizen son or daughter who either lost their citizenship status or resigned their citizenship as a result of an incidence of domestic abuse, or
- You are the parent of a United States citizen son or daughter who was at least 21 years old and who passed away within the two years prior to the date on which you filed the self-petition.
- You have been assaulted or subjected to serious cruelty by your son or daughter who is a U.S. citizen and:
- You have lived with the violent son or a daughter.
To request a green card under VAWA, you must first complete the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Form I-360 and send it to USCIS. In addition, you will be required to send documents to show that you satisfy all the qualifying conditions outlined above, such as the following:
- A declaration describing your relationship, the abuse you endured, your good moral character, and anything else that is important to confirming your eligibility,
- Further proof (if available) of the abuse, such as police reports, medical records, or protection orders imposed by the court
- Clearance documentation from law enforcement displaying your criminal history, if any, and other evidence proving you are a person of good moral character. This documentation can be obtained from the police department of any municipality that you have lived in for more than six months within the past three years.
- Evidence indicating the offender is a United States citizen or holder of a green card
- Evidence proving you are the abuser's child, spouse, or parent—a marriage or birth certificate can be used as evidence
- Corroborating evidence that you resided with the offender.
- Documentation demonstrating that you are currently residing in the U.S.
It is important to note that there is a standard filing fee, but battered spouses, parents, or children who file their own petitions are exempt from having to pay it.
Call Our Jacksonville Immigration Attorneys Today!
The attorneys at Nooney, Roberts, Hewett & Nowicki have decades of combined experience assisting clients. Our team of legal experts can help you along this complicated and delicate process. Please do not go through this process alone. Call us at (904) 398-1992 or fill out a quick form to schedule a free initial consultation with our aggressive immigration attorneys! ¡Hablamos español!