Nobody should tolerate being abused! If you are legally eligible for VAWA, winning a VAWA case can be a way to avoid deportation, apply for a green card, and stay lawfully in the US if you are suffering abuse or extreme cruelty by a US citizen or Green Card holding spouse or parent.
What is VAWA?
VAWA (the Violence Against Women Act) is specifically for non-U.S. citizens who have been the victim of abuse or “extreme cruelty” by their US citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (Green Card holder) Spouse or Parent. VAWA allows a person to apply for Cancellation of Removal if facing deportation proceedings, and it also allows people to “self-petition” for their own green card.
This option is used for victims who need to seek safety from an abusive spouse or parent without them knowing the victim is filing an immigration case. The victim can use this option to find safety and freedom from the abusive person without fear of retaliation.
Who is Eligible for VAWA?
- The Spouse – A spouse may file for the self and a child under 21-years of age for any abusive that is, or has taken place. The marriage must have occurred in “good faith’ and not for the sole purpose of immigration benefits. The victim must have lived with the abusive spouse for a time and be an individual of good moral character.
- The Child – Children of abusive parents can file for naturalization if they are under 21-years-old or be included in a spouse petition. Children may also petition after 21-years of age up until 25 if the child can prove the delay in filing happened due to the abuse.
- The Parent – If a son or daughter has been abusive, a parent may also file a petition for naturalization. An individual must be able to prove they’ve suffered cruelty or violence by a U.S. citizen that is a son or daughter. The parent will have had to live with the son or daughter for a time and be of good moral character.
Am I Eligible for VAWA?
A person is allowed to “self-petition” for their own green card through VAWA if they meet the following criteria:
- They are the spouse, former spouse (if divorce happened less than 2 years ago), child, or parent of an abusive US citizen or lawful permanent resident.
- If they were married in “Good Faith.”
- If the applicant is a person of “Good Moral Character”
- If the person shared a residence with the abusive family member.
- Also the applicant cannot have participated in causing the abuse.
Note, while an undocumented person can apply for a VAWA self-petition, they must still be “admissible” in order to adjust status and get a green card!
This means that if the applicant has committed fraud in the past, has been deported, has a criminal record or has triggered unlawful presence bars, he or she will need to discuss it very carefully with an immigration law expert to make sure the strategy and eligibility are clear from the beginning, because the applicant may require a waiver or may not be eligible to adjust status at all.
What is Abuse or “Extreme Cruelty”?
Many situations can constitute abuse or “extreme cruelty.” For example, physical harm such as hitting, kicking, slapping, hair-pulling, pushing, just to name a few of the examples, will constitute abuse. Many more types of harm can be considered as well. Here is a short non-exclusive list of harms that we have seen in our VAWA cases:
- Harm of a sexual nature – including rape or unwanted sexual touching for example.
- Controlling of movement – refusing to allow you to go out of your home, for example.
- Controlling of your finances – refusing to allow you to access your money or to spend your money as you wish, for example.
- Constant name calling or insults – this can be considered emotional abuse and can rise to the level of “extreme cruelty.”
- Threats against you to do harm to you or your family members, or to get you deported.
- Many more. (For a full discussion of this topic, please see our video here:What counts as ABUSE for VAWA)
Every situation is different. Seek the advice of a lawyer if you have questions about whether your situation rises to the level of a VAWA case.
If you are searching for an Oakland VAWA attorney or an Immigration Attorney, our firm can help you. Our attorneys serve clients throughout Northern California, the United States, and the world. Contact us now at (510) 756-4468. Call to set up a consultation with our Oakland immigration lawyers.
The Process to VAWA Petition
- File the I-360 form and include requested documentation.
- Self-petitioning spouses or children will receive (if requirements are met) a notice of “Prima Facie Determination” which is valid for 150-days. This will allow you to receive public benefits and support.
Those who do not have legal immigration status may be able to remain in the U.S. with deferred action.
Work Eligibility for VAWA Petitioners
Individuals with an approved I-360 status can work in the U.S. even if that petition is in ‘deferred action.’ The I-765 form will need to be filled out to seek employment which is an employment authorization application. Children who are old enough to work are also employment eligible and will also need to fill out the I-765 form.
What is VAWA Cancellation of Removal?
Another aspect of VAWA is for people in deportation proceedings. 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. It is a form of relief that a noncitizen victim can seek in immigration court after being placed in removal proceedings. Successful cancellation of removal results in LPR status for the victim, and his or her noncitizen children ultimately receive a green card as well.
To qualify for VAWA cancellation of removal, a victim must prove:
- He or she has been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by a U.S.-citizen or LPR spouse or parent.
- Physical presence in the United States for 3 years.
- Good moral character.
- That removal would cause extreme hardship.
- That certain inadmissibility grounds do not apply or that she qualifies for a waiver of inadmissibility.
If you are eligible, then you can use VAWA cancellation of removal to request that a judge allow you to stay in the United States and grant you a green card.
Get Help With VAWA With Landerholm Immigration, A.P.C.
We have a compassionate team of immigration attorneys and professionals that can assist through the various petitions for VAWA petitioners and invite you to talk with us about your situation. Contact us today.
- For more on VAWA Cancellation of Removal, please see this video: ¿Cómo calificar para cancelación de VAWA?
If you are an immigrant in the United States, whether you are facing deportation or not, and if you have ever been abused or subjected to extreme cruelty, you may have immigration options. Please contact our office and see how our immigration lawyers can help!