Immigration Based on the Violence Against Women Act

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If you are a battered child, spouse or parent, it is possible to file for an immigrant visa under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The law allows certain children, spouses and parents of U.S. citizens, and certain children and spouses of lawful permanent residents, or those who hold green cards, to file a petition on their own behalf, without their abuser’s knowledge. The purpose is to provide victims, both men and women, safety, independence and protection from those who abuse them.

To qualify for an immigrant visa under VAWA, you must be a:

  • Spouse – You are, or you have been, abused by your spouse who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR). You can also file as an abused spouse if your child was abused by your U.S. citizen or LPR spouse. The law also allows you to include any minor unmarried children on the petition if they have not filed their own.
  • Parent – You are the parent of a U.S. citizen, and you have been abused by that child who is a U.S. citizen.
  • Child – You can file your own petition if you are a child who has been abused and you are under age 21, unmarried, and you have been abused by your citizen or LPR parent. If you have children, they may also be included in the petition. You may also file for yourself as a child after age 21, but before age 25 if you can demonstrate the abuse was the primary reason why you delayed filing.

To be eligible as a spouse for purposes of petitioning under VAWA:

  • You are married to a U.S. citizen or LPR abuser; or
  • Your marriage to the abuser ended due to death or divorce because of the abuse; or
  • Your spouse lost or gave up their citizenship or permanent resident status within the two years before you filed the petition because of a domestic violence incident; or
  • You believed you were legally married to your abuser who is a citizen or LPR, but the marriage was not legitimate only because of the bigamy of your abusive spouse.

AND

You or your child suffered cruelty or battery by your abuser who is a citizen or LPR; and you in good faith married the abuser rather than for the immigration benefits, you lived with your abuser, and you are a person of good character.

To be eligible as a child for purposes of petitioning under VAWA:

  • You are a child of an abuser who is a U.S. citizen or LPR; or
  • Your parent who abused you is a citizen or LPR who lost their citizenship or permanent resident status because of a domestic violence incident;

AND

You have suffered cruelty or battery by your citizen or LPR parent; and you lived with your abusive parent, and you are a person of good character. If you are less than 14 years old, it is presumed that you are a person of good character.

To be eligible as a parent for purposes of petitioning under VAWA:

  • Your U.S. citizen child is at least 21 years old when you file your petition; or
  • Your citizen child lost or gave up their citizenship status due to a domestic violence incident; or
  • Your citizen child was at least 21 years old and died within two years before you filed your petition;

AND

You have suffered cruelty or battery by your child who is a citizen; and you lived with your abusive child and you have good character.

If you are a child, spouse or parent who meets all of these qualifications, you may be able to file your immigrant visa petition under VAWA. To do so, you must complete all of the appropriate forms and submit applicable documentation. If you or a loved one has been the victims of an abusive child, spouse or parent and is in need of one or more of our immigration law services, contact one of the Central Pennsylvania Immigration Attorneys or call (717) 920-2220 or contact us online today for your free and confidential consultation.