Phoenix Immigration LawyerGreen Card Under the Violence Against Women Act


If you are a battered spouse, battered parent, or battered child, you could qualify to apply under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the Immigration and Nationality Act for an immigrant visa petition. What the law allows, in general, is for qualifying spouses, parents, and children of abusers to obtain Green Cards on their own behalf. But the process, including the issue of eligibility, can be complex, and in some cases difficult to understand. Castañeda Immigration Law can help.

Eligibility under the Violence Against Women Act

Notwithstanding the title of the law, the provisions of the VAWA apply to both men and women. It also applies to parents and children. And in some situations, you need not be currently married to the abuser to fall within the protection of the law. And because the petition is filed by the abused spouse/parent/child, and because consent of the abuser is not necessary, the abuser is not notified of the filing of the petition.

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There are three categories of potentially eligible immigrants who may be eligible obtain lawful permanent resident status under the Act:

Spouses. To be eligible for a Green Card as a spouse under the VAWA, you must have a qualifying spousal relationship. This includes but goes beyond current existing marriages. You are eligible under the law as a spouse if and of the following apply:

  • You are married to a United States citizen (or to a permanent resident) who is the abuser.
  • The marriage was terminated, either by divorce or by the death of the abuser within 2 years of the date you file your petition under VAWA. The divorce must be related to the abuse that you suffered.
  • Your spouse is no longer a citizen of the US, having lost or renounced his or her citizenship as the result of a domestic violence incident within the 2-year period prior to the filing of your petition.
  • You believe you were married to your spouse, you were abused by that person, but the marriage was not legally effective because the spouse was a bigamist.

There are additional requirements under VAWA to be considered an abused spouse. They include the following:

  • You or your child has been the victim of battery and/or extreme cruelty by your spouse.
  • You did not marry the abuser spouse solely for immigration benefits but married in good faith.
  • You resided with the abuser.
  • You are of good moral character.

Children. Eligibility under VAWA for children, as with spouses, includes a qualifying relationship and other factors, among them:

  • You are the child of a either US citizen abuser, a permanent resident abuser, or a permanent resident who lost that status due to domestic violence.
  • You have resided with and been battered or been subjected to extreme cruelty by your citizen or lawful permanent resident parent.
  • You are of good moral character, which is presumed if you are under the age of 14.

Parents. Eligibility prerequisites for parents under VAWA include:

  • You have a child who is a US citizen and who (a) is at least 21 years old at the time of the filing of your immigrant visa petition; and (b) lost their citizenship or renounced it related to a domestic violence incident.
  • You were battered or suffered extreme cruelty by the child who is a US citizen.
  • You resided with the abuser.
  • You are of good moral character.

Violence Against Women Act Immigration Lawyer in Phoenix

The key to understanding VAWA immigration is to determine, in the first instance, whether you are eligible. While we have provided an outline on the issue, questions will still remain, including whether there has been abuse within the meaning of the law.

At Castañeda Immigration Law, we can guide you through the laws that apply. We can also assist in the process of “self-filing” for VAWA immigration, including filling out Form I-360. Moreover, if your application is approved but you do not have legal immigration status in the US at that time, we can help if you are placed in deferred action. Contact us to find out how our firm can assist you in obtaining the benefits of VAWA, including a Green Card.

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