Don’t take abuse because of immigration threats!
If you are a battered spouse, child or parent, you may file an immigrant visa petition under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
The VAWA provisions in the INA allow certain spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizens and certain spouses and children of lawful permanent residents (Green Card holders) to file a petition for themselves, without the abuser's knowledge. This allows victims to seek both safety and independence from their abuser, who is not notified about the filing.
Battered spouses are still able to apply for residency as self-petitioners under VAWA even if their marriage to the abuser was terminated by death or a divorce (related to the abuse) within the 2 years prior to filing the petition, or if the abusive spouse lost or renounced citizenship or permanent resident status within the 2 years prior to filing your petition due to an incident of domestic violence, or even if the victim believed that she/he was legally married to the abusive U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse but the marriage was not legitimate solely because of the bigamy of your abusive spouse.
Besides proving their qualifying relationship to the abuser, the victim needs to gather evidence to prove that:
- She/he has suffered battery/extreme cruelty by the U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse
- She/he has been abused by the U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, or her child has been subjected to battery or extreme cruelty by the U.S. or permanent resident spouse.
- Self-petitioner and abusive spouse entered into the marriage in good faith, not solely for immigration benefits.
- She/he has resided with abusive spouse.
- Self-petitioner is a person of good moral character (no criminal record)
If your Form I-360 is approved and you have applied or are eligible to apply for adjustment of status, you can obtain an Employment Authorization while the pendency of your case. If you are not eligible to apply for adjustment of status but have an I-360 approved, the Immigration Service may place you in deferred action, which allows you to remain in the United States and obtain an Employment Authorization Document while your residency case is resolved.
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