Battered Spouse or Child Petition
Domestic violence is a traumatic experience that can leave deep emotional and physical scars that can take years to heal. For those who are immigrants, it can be even more challenging, as they may fear deportation. However, there is hope for victims of domestic violence who want to stay in the United States.
The Violence Against Women Act
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) empowers abused spouses and children of US citizens or legal permanent residents to petition for a green card without relying on their abusive partner or parent.
Under VAWA, domestic abuse includes:
- Physical violence, such as hitting, slapping, or kicking
- Emotional abuse, for example, name-calling, threats, or isolation from family and friends
- Sexual abuse by forcing someone to engage in sexual acts against their will
- Psychological abuse, including intimidation, humiliation, or controlling behaviour
- Stalking, such as following someone or making threats to harm them or their loved ones
- Financial abuse in the form of using assets to threaten, control, or restrict someone
Any abuse must have been inflicted by the petitioner’s US spouse or directed toward the petitioner’s child. In the case of a petitioner who is a child, the abuse must have been perpetrated by a US parent or stepparent.
Eligibility to Self-Petition Under VAWA
To be eligible to self-petition under VAWA, you must be the spouse, unmarried child (under the age of 21) or parent who has been subjected to abuse from a US citizen or permanent resident. It is important to note that the abuse must have taken place in the United States and the self-petition should also be filed while the victim is still in the United States. In exceptional cases, an individual may petition under VAWA if they were abused outside of the United States by a member of the US uniformed services or a government employee.
Before filing a VAWA petition for a green card, be prepared to submit proof of a qualifying relationship and evidence of abuse. Supporting documents include, police reports, medical records, witness statements, and marriage or birth certificates. You must also demonstrate good moral character, which typically requires a clean criminal record.
In addition to the self-petitioning individual, certain family members may also be eligible for derivative benefits under VAWA. Derivative beneficiaries are family members who are included in the self-petitioning individual’s application for permanent residency. These persons may be:
- Unmarried children of the abused spouse or parent, who are under 21 years old, and/ or unmarried children over 21 years old who are physically or mentally unable to care for themselves.
- Children of the abused child, if the child is at least 21 years old and has children of their own, and the child’s spouse, as long as the child is at least 18 years old.
Cases are handled on an individual basis and derivative beneficiaries may be subject to additional eligibility requirements. Consulting an experienced immigration lawyer is essential when preparing your petition.
The Violence Against Women Act provides protection and a pathway to legal status for individuals who have suffered abuse at the hands of a US citizen or permanent resident. Silver Immigration is a Montreal-based law firm that specializes in helping clients navigate the complex and ever-changing US immigration system. Our US immigration lawyer has extensive experience helping clients navigate the VAWA self-petition process, and we would love to help with your case.
Send us a message using our contact form or call us today at 1 (888) 799-4769 to schedule a free consultation.