The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) protects men, women, and children who are victims of abuse. Provisions can enable victims to seek lawful permanent resident (LPR) status in the U.S. without support from the person who is causing the abuse.
While this law makes it possible to get a green card if you are a domestic violence or elder abuse victim, there are several steps to take and requirements to follow to achieve this outcome. Mistakes could cause a petition to be denied and might prejudice future efforts to obtain a visa. For that reason, many VAWA applicants find it helpful to work with an experienced immigration attorney.
At the law office of Luis F. Hess, we understand the pain you’ve endured and we want to help you escape a bad situation to find a better life ahead. Our experienced immigration team can work with you through each stage of the process to help you reach your goals.
Gaining a Green Card with VAWA
In most cases when someone seeks to get a green card based on a family connection, the family member who is a U.S. citizen or LPR files a petition for immigration on their behalf. However, in abusive situations, an individual seeking a green card may petition on their own without assistance or approval for the abusive citizen or LPR.
To be able to self-petition for a green card, an applicant must be the victim of extreme cruelty or battery committed by someone who is a U.S. citizen or LPR and who is related in a certain way. Victims abused by a parent, child, spouse, or former spouse may self-petition if their abuser is a U.S. citizen. Someone abused by a parent, spouse, or ex-spouse who is an LPR may also self-petition.
The process begins by filing Form I-360 with supporting documentation. Because it is so important to document the details of the situation appropriately, it is wise to work with an attorney while preparing the petition. It may be possible to file for Adjustment of Status to become an LPR at the same time if the applicant meets all the other requirements.