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Domestic Violence? No Matter What Your U.S. Immigration Status, or Sex--You Have a Powerful Voice and Potential Immigration Benefits in the United States....Don't Waste It.. Use Your Power!

Domestic Violence? No Matter What Your U.S. Immigration Status, or Sex--You Have a Powerful Voice and Potential Immigration Benefits in the United States....Don't Waste It.. Use Your Power!

Posted by: ScottMond Law Firm
November 12, 2010
Topic: Family Law & Immigration

Domestic Violence is one of the most difficult forms of abuse to face "head on" as it touches every aspect of one's life, whether male or female. It can leave an individual emotionally, financially, spiritually, physically and logistically paralyzed. The issues of shame, codependency, and fear for themselves or fear for their "victimizer" (whom they love or loved) makes taking necessary quick protective action seem distant. However, a supportive network of friends, family, psychological counselors, legal counselors and spiritual support is the essential key to prevailing in receiving U.S. immigration benefits such as a Legal Permanent Resident Status (Green Card).

The legal tool used to assist non- U.S. Permanent Resident victims of domestic violence is the Violence Against Women's Act ("VAWA"). The purpose of this article is to briefly highlight some of the powerful benefits and issues surrounding filing a VAWA I-I-360 self petition. It is essential to have a one-on-one consultation with an experienced immigration attorney to see how you or someone you know can benefit from the points mentioned below.

Whether One's Illegal Status In The U.S. Matters When Filing A VAWA Application .

Even if a victim has crossed the border illegally without inspection, has a prior removal order in place against them, is unlawfully present in the United States, or has a record of multiple illegal reentries; if the abuse and/or extreme cruelty was one of the central reasons for being out of status the victim may indeed be eligible for VAWA benefits.

Is it Too Late to Self Petition through VAWA if a Victim is Already Placed in Removal Proceedings?

No. One's removal may be stopped. In fact, special rules apply for Cancellation of Removal for victims of domestic violence which can stop the removal altogether while the I-360 VAWA application is being adjudicated.

Who Really Can Benefit from a Self Petition through VAWA?

The following individuals are eligible to self petition under VAWA:

  • Spouse
  • Intended Spouse
  • Divorced Spouse
  • Widowed Spouse
  • Child under 21
  • Parent of a Child Abused by USC or LPR
  • Adult son or daughter
  • Parent of an Abuser over 21
  • "Child" until age 25 with showing that failure to file by age 21 due to abuse

What does One Need to Establish to be Successful in a VAWA Petition?

In order for an individual to have a successful VAWA application, the following factors at least have to be met:

  • Extreme Cruelty and Abuse
  • Credible Evidence has to be provided
  • The Marriage had to have been entered into in good faith
  • A demonstration of Good Moral Character for the Statutory Period
  • Proof that the Victim Resided with the Abuser at some point.
  • Proof of the Abuser's Status in the U.S.
  • The self-petitioning victim has been residing in the U.S.

Is There Any Way to Get Work Authorization If I, the Victim, am Self-Petitioning or in Removal Proceedings

Yes. Certain Rules apply that allow U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to grant work authorization to individuals who are self petitioning through VAWA.

The above discussion only "scratches the surface" of what it takes to move forward with a VAWA petition and be successful. Again, if you believe that you or someone you know is eligible for VAWA, your next step is to contact experienced immigration counsel. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us at [email protected] or call 703.261.6881 in VA, or 301.251.4003 in MD.

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