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VAWA - There are more ways to qualify than you think



VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) self-petition allows abuse victims who are close relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to apply for status on their own. Although the term "women" is used in the title, men are also victims of abuse and can apply under this law. Most people think only of spousal domestic violence as the only way to apply for VAWA, but there are many other people eligible who do not know about it.


Typically, the way this process works is that if you are the spouse, child, or parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, the relative must file a petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). On your behalf to obtain legal status. For abusive petitioners, this power over the process served as a way to control and further abuse the potential beneficiaries in the immigration process.


Thanks to VAWA, this changed by allowing victims of abuse in this situation to obtain legal status without the involvement or control of the abuser through a VAWA self-petition.


FOR THE ELIGIBILITY PROCESS FOR VAWA SELF-PETITION, WHAT SHOULD I TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION?

You must have one of the "qualifying relationships" with the person who is abusing you:

o Are you or were you married to a US citizen or lawful permanent resident?

o If yes, you must check the following points:

Any divorces related to abuse?

Did you marry your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse believing you were not married, but later discovered that you were already married?

Are you married to a US citizen spouse who died within the last two years? Note: This does not apply if your spouse was a legal permanent resident.

Are you married to your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse, but lost your immigration status in the last two years due to domestic violence?


Are you or were you the child/stepchild of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident?

o If yes, please refer to the following points:

Is your abusive parent/step-parent a US citizen or legal permanent resident?


Are you or were you the parent of an abusive US citizen?

*Note: Your abusive child or stepchild must be 21 years of age or older.

Is your abusive child a US citizen? Note: If your abusive child is a legal permanent resident, you do not qualify.


It must be proven that the victim suffered abuse.

The law defines extreme aggression or cruelty as the following points:

• Being a victim of any act or threatened act of violence, including any forcible detention, that results in or threatens to cause physical or mental injury.

• Psychological or sexual abuse or exploitation, including rape, sexual abuse, incest or forced prostitution.

• Other abusive actions, including acts that, in themselves, may not initially appear violent but are part of an overall pattern of violence.


If based on the questions above, you think you may qualify for a green card under VAWA, contact our office to help evaluate your case. The immigration law environment is a complex area, and VAWA self-petition is a special process, we strongly recommend that you and your domestic violence advocate work with an immigration attorney experienced in the matter.


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