One of the best laws Congress passed to protects victims of domestic violence if the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The act allows battered and abused spouses of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents to self-petition for permanent residence. The VAWA self-petition is confidential, and the abuser will not be informed of the initiation or decision. Moreover, United States and Citizenship Services has a special victims unit at the Vermont Service Center that handles these petitions. In this post I will discuss the VAWA self-petition process.
What is the Violence Against Women Act?
As mentioned above, the Violence Against Women Act is an act that protects victims of domestic violence. The immigration provisions include the self-petition process. It also includes a special rule for Cancellation of Removal in removal proceedings. The law also established several waivers, which are exclusive to victims of domestic violence victims, including a waiver of an admission to qualify for lawful permanent residence. In other words, even if someone enters the United States without admission, which bars others from adjusting, a VAWA self-petitioner still qualifies for adjustment of status. The law also allows a conditional permanent resident to remove the conditions unilaterally if they, or their dependents, were abused.
Who may Apply Under VAWA?
The following individuals may apply for self-petitions:
- Spouses of lawful permanent residents and United States citizens who were subjected to abuse
- Parents (father or mother) of United States citizens who were abused by their children
- Children and stepchildren who are subject to abuse. In the case of stepchildren, the parents must have been married before the child’s 18th birthday.
What are the Requirements to apply for a VAWA Self-Petition?
There are several requirements of which potential self-petitioners should be aware. These requirements include:
- They were abused by a United State citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse
- They were victims of battery or extreme cruelty
- They were abused in the United States or in some situations the abuse happened abroad, but the location is considered American territory (army base abroad)
- They can demonstrate good moral character
- Prove that their marriage was in good faith
Am I Eligible for Adjustment of Status?
Applicants under the Violence Against Women Act are eligible for adjustment of status once the I-360 petition is approved. The application process is the same as in other adjustment categories. The petitioners and their derivatives may apply for adjustment concurrently with the I-360 or may wait until after the I-360 petition is approved.
Am I eligible for Naturalization?
VAWA self-petitioner are eligible for naturalization under the 2 years rule, even though they were divorced from their spouse at the time of the application.
If you have any questions, please call me at [number] to schedule a strategy session to discuss your options.