Sacramento VAWA Lawyers
Nobody should tolerate being abused. If you are legally eligible for VAWA, it can be a way to avoid deportation, apply for a green card, and stay lawfully in the U.S. if you are suffering abuse or extreme cruelty by a U.S. citizen or green card holding spouse or parent.
What is VAWA?
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) became law in 1994.
The legislation had a broad-based purpose of dealing with domestic violence, and protections were extended to immigrants who may have lacked legal status. The goal was to allow people who were victimized by domestic violence to come forward without fear of deportation.
VAWA is specifically for non-U.S. citizens who have been the victim of abuse or “extreme cruelty” by their U.S. 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.
Eligibility for VAWA
Authorities will do their due diligence in investigating the reasons behind an application, so it’s important to have an attorney who understands how to prepare.
To be VAWA eligible, the following must be true:
- The abuser should be the spouse or recently divorced spouse, and the abuser should have permanent residency status. Relationships with parents and children also qualify as domestic abuse under VAWA.
- The victim has been subjected to battery or extreme cruelty.
- Either physical or mental abuse must be a direct consequence of the violence.
- The victim must be a person of good moral character.
We will work with victims to prepare documentation and witness testimony that may be able to demonstrate all of the above.
Who is Eligible for VAWA?
- The Spouse – A spouse may file for themselves and a child under 21 years of age. 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. 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 child for a time and be of good moral character.
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 a lawyer 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.
Every situation is different. Seek the advice of a VAWA lawyer in Sacramento, like those at Landerholm Immigration, A.P.C., if you have questions about whether your situation rises to the level of a VAWA case.
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 in Touch with Our Team
People come to the United States with high hopes of a new life and a better future. Domestic violence turns that into a nightmare, and a lack of legal status is no reason for any human being to suffer abuse. It takes the police to hold the abuser accountable, but it takes a Sacramento VAWA attorney to protect the legal rights of the victim.
At Landerholm Immigration, A.P.C., we are dedicated to helping you achieve your dreams. Our team understands that immigration matters can be very stressful. In fact, many of our employees are immigrants themselves and they have firsthand experience with the U.S. immigration process.
Get in touch with a member of our team today to learn how we can help with your immigration case: (510) 491-0291
“I will continue to recommend Landerholm Immigration to anyone that needs help. Thank you for being there every step of the way!”- Dalia R.