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How Can an Abuse Victim Receive a Green Card Through VAWA?

 Posted on June 20,2022 in Immigration

DuPage County immigration lawyerThere are many cases where immigrants to the United States may be at risk of harm, but they may be hesitant to report a crime or seek protection because they are concerned about their immigration status. In cases where immigrants are undocumented, entered the United States illegally, or stayed in the U.S. after the expiration of a temporary visa, they may worry that if they report domestic abuse or seek protection for themselves or their family members, they could face deportation. Fortunately, the United States has laws that provide protection in these situations. Under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a victim of domestic violence or abuse may not only receive protection against deportation, but they may also qualify for a Green Card that will allow them to remain in the United States permanently.

Eligibility for Protection as a VAWA Self-Petitioner

Most of the time, immigrants who are seeking a visa or Green Card will need to be sponsored by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who will file a petition on their behalf with immigration authorities. However, the Violence Against Women Act allows a person to file a petition for themselves in certain situations.

To qualify for protections under VAWA, a person will need to meet the following requirements:

  • They must have a qualifying relationship with a U.S. citizen or Green Card holder who committed acts of abuse against them. A self-petitioner may be the spouse or fiancé(e) of an abuser, or if they were previously married to the abuser, they may file a petition within two years after the termination of the marriage through divorce or death. Children or parents of abusers may also petition for VAWA protections.
  • They must have experienced battery or extreme cruelty by their abuser while they were in a qualifying relationship. A spouse of a U.S. citizen or Green Card holder who committed abuse against the couple’s child may file a petition under VAWA.
  • They must be currently residing with their abuser, or they must have previously resided in the same home.
  • They must demonstrate that they have good moral character, which generally means that they have not been convicted of any “crimes involving moral turpitude.”

A person can apply for VAWA protections by submitting Form I-360 (Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant) with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Along with this form, evidence should be submitted showing that the person meets all eligibility requirements. This evidence may include marriage certificates, divorce papers, lease agreements or other documentation of residency, and/or police reports. This petition can also include any derivative beneficiaries who are unmarried and under the age of 21.

After the approval of a petition, a person will have authorization to work in the United States, and they may also be eligible for certain public benefits. The petitioner and their derivative children may also apply to become a lawful permanent resident and receive a Green Card if an immigrant visa is immediately available to them. This may be done by filing Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status). Form I-485 can be filed concurrently with Form I-360, while their petition is pending, or after it has been approved.

Contact Our Itasca VAWA Self-Petition Attorney

If you or a member of your family have been the victim of domestic abuse, and you are concerned about your immigration status, Unzueta Law Group, P.C. can help you understand your legal options. We will work with you to submit the correct forms and documents to ensure that you will be able to receive protection against harm and continue living in the United States. Contact our DuPage County Green Card Lawyer at 630-509-2363 to get legal help with issues related to immigration.



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