Abused Spouse/VAWA

Violence Against Women Act/Abused Spouse

Under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) passed by Congress in 1994, the spouses and children of United States citizens or lawful permanent residents (LPR) may self-petition to obtain lawful permanent residency. The immigration provisions of VAWA allow certain battered immigrants to file for immigration relief without the abuser’s assistance or knowledge, in order to seek safety and independence from the abuser.Who is Eligible?To be eligible to file a self-petition (an application that you file for yourself for immigration benefits) you must qualify under one of the following categories:

Spouse: You may self-petition if you are a battered spouse married to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. Unmarried children under the age of 21, who have not filed their own self-petition, may be included on your petition as derivative beneficiaries.

Parent:
You may self-petition if you are the parent of a child who has been abused by your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse. Your children (under 21 years of age and unmarried), including those who may not have been abused, may be included on your petition as derivative beneficiaries, if they have not filed their own self-petition.

Child:
You may self-petition if you are a battered child (under 21 years of age and unmarried) who has been abused by your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident parent.

What are the Basic Requirements?

The self-petitioning spouse:

  • Must be legally married to the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident batterer. A self-petition may be filed if the marriage was terminated by the abusive spouse‚Äôs death within the two years prior to filing. A self-petition may also be filed if the marriage to the abusive spouse was terminated, within the two years prior to filing, by divorce related to the abuse.
  • Must have been battered in the United States unless the abusive spouse is an employee of the United States government or a member of the uniformed services of the United States.
  • Must have been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty during the marriage, or must be the parent of a child who was battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse during the marriage.
  • Is required to be a person of good moral character.
  • Must have entered into the marriage in good faith, not solely for the purpose of obtaining immigration benefits.

The self-petitioning child:

  • Must qualify as the child of the abuser as “child” is defined in the INA for immigration purposes.
  • Any relevant credible evidence that can prove the relationship with the parent will be considered.

If you are seeking to file under the Violence Against Women Act, contact the Law Offices of Philip Lights for an initial confidential consultation.