Self-Petitions Under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) allows spouses, children, and parents of abusive United States citizens, or lawful permanent residents in some instances, to petition for permanent residence in the United States. To qualify for a self-petition, the self-petitioner should have been abused by the United States citizen, or by the Lawful Permanent Resident in the case or spouse or child. There are several kinds of abuse that qualify, which will be discussed below.
I was abused by My Spouse, Can I Apply Under VAWA?
If you had been abused by your spouse, you may self-petition for permanent residence by filing an I-360 petition with the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services. This ability to self-petition was established by Congress in 1996 in the original Violence Against Women Act. The self-petitioning process is straightforward and is adjudicated by a special section of the Service’s Vermont Service Center. Once approved, the self-petitioner may apply for Adjustment of Status, if the visa number is available.
I Entered the United States without Inspection, Can I Still Apply?
Yes. The law allows you to apply for Adjustment of Status, even though you entered without inspection.
What Type of Abuse Should I Document?
We have used many forms of abuse to successfully apply for clients under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petition procedure. Some of the forms of abuse include:
- Immigration abuse where the abusive spouse refuses to apply for an immigration benefit or has threatened to call the authorities to report the immigrant.
- Financial abuse where the abusive spouse steals from, or forces the immigrant, to give away money or assets.
- Psychological or emotional abuse, where the abusive spouse calls the immigrant names or prevents the immigrant from enjoying life
Other forms of abuse may also apply in certain situations.
What Type of Evidence Should I Include in my Petition?
There is a plethora of evidence that you can include in your petition. Some of the evidence that we usually include includes:
- Marriage and divorce certificates
- Evidence of the bona fide nature of the marriage
- Evidence of the self-petitioner’s good moral character
- Evidence of abuse, including psychological reports
- Evidence of domestic violence injunctions
Can I Include My Children In My Petition?
Yes. If you have any children who are under 25, they can be included in the self-petition.
I am In Removal Proceedings, Can I Still Apply?
Yes. You may self-petition through the process mentioned above, or obtain special rule Cancellation of Removal under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
Will My Information Remain Confidential?
Yes. The law has severe penalties for release of any confidential information relating to battered spouses or children.
When Can I File for Adjustment of Status?
You may file form I-485 Adjustment of Status application with your initial I-360 application if you had been battered by a United States citizen.
I Have Divorced My Spouse, What Can I Do?
You may still apply for adjustment using VAWA even if you divorce your spouse, within two years.
Call us today to discuss your options.
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