Green Cards for Abused Spouses and Children:VAWA

Unfortunately, many individuals find themselves in abusive relationships which may pose complications during the Green Card application process. You may not want the abuser to sponsor you, or he or she may not want sponsor you. Fortunately, there is a type of relief under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), called a VAWA petition. A VAWA petition is a way to apply for your Green Card without the assistance of the abuser and without notifying the abuser that you are filing for visa benefits. Both men and women can apply for a VAWA petition. First and foremost, it is important to prevent further abuse from occurring. There are many resources available throughout the world to assist victims of abuse. No one is required to stay in an abusive relationship, even where threats of deportation are made. It is important to find a safe haven which may involve a shelter to seek safety from the abuser.

To be eligible to file a VAWA petition you must either be:

1. A Spouse: You may file for yourself if you are, or were, the abused spouse of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. You may also include your unmarried children who are under the age of 21 on your petition. You must be able to demonstrate that you entered into the marriage in good faith, not solely for immigration benefits, that you lived with your spouse and that you are a person of good moral character.

2. A Parent: You may file for yourself if you are the parent of a child who has been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse. You may also file if you have been abused by your permanent resident or citizen child. You may include on your petition your other children, including those who have not been abused.

3. A Child: You may file for yourself if you are an abused child under 21, unmarried and have been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent. You may also include your children on your petition. You can petition for yourself if you are over the age 21 but under the age the 25 if you are able to demonstrate that the abuse main reason for the delay in filing was the abuse. To file a petition under VAWA as a child, you must prove that you have resided with the abusive parent, have evidence to prove your relationship to your parent and you must provide evidence of good moral character if you are over the age of 14.

Providing evidence of the abuse sometimes becomes problematic as clients are often afraid

to call the police because they fear they, too, may be arrested due to their immigration status. However, there are other forms of proof that can be obtained to help prove that the alien has truly suffered abuse. Such items include affidavits, photographs of abuse, psychological reports have been used as a substitute for police reports. Additionally, to prove good faith marriage, a person must show that they truly intended to spend a life together with the abuser so joint documents of the relationship are also important.

There are several situations under which a person can petition under VAWA either as a parent, spouse or child. Additionally, there are certain requirements to be considered a person of good moral character. These cases are filed confidentially to protect the applicant from further abuse. Because of the many requirements for a VAWA petition, it is highly recommended you speak to an experienced immigration attorney before filing a VAWA petition. He or she will help inform you of whether or not you qualify for the petition. This petition could save your life and the life of your loved ones.

Contact our offices in Clearwater at 727-712-2299 or Tampa at 813-279-6180 to discuss your options today.