Victims of Domestic Violence
What is the VAWA Battered Spouse Waiver?
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is an immigration benefit that allows certain abused or battered family members of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents to obtain legal status through a “self-petition.” This means that instead of relying on their abusive family member to file an I-130 petition on their behalf, certain non-citizens may be eligible to file a petition on their own, which may allow them to escape their abusive relationship. Importantly, if the abusive relationship ends (either through divorce or death of the abuser), the VAWA petition must be filed within two years of the relationship ending. Please note that although the law is called the “Violence Against Women Act” it is available to people of all genders.
Who is Eligible to File a VAWA Petition?
The following people are eligible to file a self-petition under VAWA:
- Abused spouses of U.S. citizens and lawful permanents residents;
- Spouses of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents whose children are abused;
- Abused parents of U.S. citizen children; and
- Abused children of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents
What must a VAWA Petitioner Prove?
A VAWA petitioner must submit evidence to prove the following:
- That the abuser is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
- A bona fide relationship to the abuser:
- In the case of an abusive spouse, the VAWA petitioner must prove a good faith marriage and prove that he or she lived with the abusive spouse.
- That he or she was the victim of battery or extreme cruelty by the abuser
- This includes physical, sexual, emotional, and psychological abuse
- Good moral character
One important benefit of VAWA is that it often allows people to apply for adjustment of status even if they entered the United States illegally. Unfortunately, some people may still be barred from obtaining a green card through VAWA if they have committed certain crimes or immigration violations. Inadmissibility waivers for certain immigration violations are available for VAWA self-petitioners.
Men Qualify Under VAWA Too
Disproportionately, women are the victims of domestic abuse. That being said, many men also suffer from partner violence. Though the name may suggest otherwise, the Violence Against Women Act is a gender neutral law. Any person of any gender identity can petition for immigration relief under VAWA if the legal criteria are met.
Contact Our Immigration Attorneys Today
At the Law Offices of Abner Pinedo our compassionate immigration lawyers have extensive experience handling cases involving humanitarian visas, such as the VAWA battered spouse waivers. To talk to one of our immigration lawyers today, please call us at (714) 455-9240 and speak directly with an attorney about your case. We are ready to help!