domestic violence – VAWA petition

As a battered spouse, child or parent, you may file an immigrant visa petition under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

VAWA allows certain spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents (Green Card holders) to file a petition for themselves, without the abuser’s knowledge. This allows victims to seek both safety and independence from their abuser, who is not notified about the filing and who cannot receive information about the filing.

Help is available from the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TDD). For more information, visit the National Domestic Violence website.

You may be eligible to make a VAWA petition in the following circumstances.

Spouse: You may file a VAWA petition for yourself if you have been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse. You may include your unmarried children under 21, who did not independently file. You must be married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident abuser or your marriage to the abuser was terminated by death or a divorce (related to the abuse) within the 2 years prior to filing. If your spouse lost or renounced citizenship or permanent resident status within the 2 years prior to filing due to an incident of domestic violence, or you believed that you were legally married to your abusive U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse but the marriage was not legitimate solely because of the bigamy of your abusive spouse you may still file a VAWA petition. Even if you reside with your spouse abroad, so long as your spouse was employed by the U. S. government or a member of the U.S. military you can make a VAWA petition. In every case, you must have entered into the marriage in good faith and not solely for immigration benefits. You must have resided with your spouse. And you must be a person of good moral character.

Parent: You may file a VAWA petition in two circumstances. First, you may file for yourself if your child has been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse. You may include on your other children on your petition, even if they have not been abused. Second, you may also file if you are the parent of a U.S. citizen, and you have been abused by your U.S. citizen child. You may file even if, your U.S. citizen son or daughter who lost or renounced citizenship status related to an incident of domestic violence or died within 2 years prior to filing. You must have resided with the abusive son or daughter. And in every case, you must demonstrate that you are a person of good moral character.

Child: You may file a VAWA petition if you are an abused child under 21, unmarried and have been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent. You may include your children on your petition. You may file for yourself as a child after age 21 but before age 25 if you can demonstrate that the abuse was the main reason for the delay in filing. You may made a VAWA petition if you are the child of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident abuser, and may make the petition even if the U.S. citizen or permanent resident abuser lost citizenship or lawful permanent resident status due to an incident of domestic violence. The abuse must have occurred in the United States by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent, unless you resided abroad with your U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent who was employed by the U.S. government or a member of the U.S. uniformed services and you can demonstrate that you have resided with the abusive parent. In every case you must have evidence to prove your relationship to your parent, and must provide evidence of good moral character if you are over the age of 14.

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