What is VAWA?
VAWA was passed in 1994 by Congress and is responsible for creating a special avenue to immigration status for certain battered non-citizens.
Who Qualifies under VAWA?
In order for a noncitizen to qualify under VAWA, they must be the spouse or child of an abusive U.S. citizen or permanent resident (men may also apply for a VAWA petition). As a spouse, you will have to prove you are married to the abuser and if you are a child petitioning against an abusive parent, you must prove that you are under the age of 21 and unmarried.
Once you qualify under VAWA, there are two different categories you can be classified into based on a preference system. Self-petitioners, who are immediate relatives of U.S. Citizens, are eligible to adjust status to a lawful permanent resident status when their VAWA petition is approved. Spouses and children of lawful permanent residents must wait for an immigrant visa to become available for their category. While they wait for this status, they are able to work.
What documents and evidence are required?
If you are eligible, you need to file Form I-360 Self-Petition (VAWA petition) along with supporting documentation. Your petition will also include extensive evidence. This extensive evidence must include evidence of battery, abuse, extreme cruelty and proof of the qualifying relationship to the abuser. If you are able to establish the basic requirements, you will be granted a “prima facie” determination which will make you eligible for certain public benefits.
Once your VAWA petition is approved, you will be granted deferred action status in most cases. This means that removal or deportation proceedings cannot be initiated. Furthermore, you will be eligible for work authorization when your VAWA petition is approved.
Unlike most immigration petitions, a noncitizen petitioning for immigration status under VAWA does not need a sponsor. In fact, the petitioner can apply for immigration status without the knowledge or involvement of the abuser.
Why an Attorney is Imperative
Due to the sensitive nature of VAWA petitions, it is important to speak to an attorney and have them help you compile your petition. There are various criteria which you may not be able to have readily available evidence where a creative attorney may be able to assist you in providing alternate forms of evidence. The burden of proof rests on the petitioner, and an experienced counsel will ensure that you present a strongly supported case.
To discuss a VAWA petition with an experienced immigration attorney from American Visa Law Group, feel free to click the contact us tab and fill out the inquiry form or call us at 510-500-1155.