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What is needed to get VAWA status in the United States?

Domestic violence is a serious matter that affects everyone involved. One in four women and one in nine men have experienced domestic violence according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. It can be very confusing and frightening if you are an immigrant dealing with a domestic violence situation. You may not know where to turn or what rights you have. 

An experienced VAWA attorney in Georgia, such as those at Virguez Law, can help protect your rights and determine if you can get a Green Card without the cooperation of a U.S. citizen petitioner. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) gives you a life free of your abuser. This article describes the VAWA and what criteria you must meet to self-petition.

What is the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)?

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a law that was passed by Congress in 1994 as a way to create special routes to get immigration status for certain battered non-citizens. Among the basic requirements for eligibility, a battered noncitizen must be the spouse or child of an abusive U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The battered spouse or child will go through what is called a “self-petitioning” process. This process lets the battered spouse/child apply for immigration status without getting the abuser involved or having to tell the abuser of the process. Derivative status – which simply means that the child is named on the visa petition for their parent who is the lead beneficiary in this situation–  is available to certain children and parents of the principal immigrant. 

Now that you know what the VAWA is, here are the requirements that you must meet in order to self-petition.

Who is eligible to self–petition for VAWA: 

  • You must be a spouse, child (unmarried and under age 21), parent of an abused child (unmarried and under age 21), or parent who was physically battered and/or subjected to “extreme cruelty” by a U.S. citizen (USC) or lawful permanent resident (LPR) spouse, parent or adult child.
  • You must reside in the U.S. at the time the VAWA petition is filed.
  • You have lived with the abusive U.S. citizen or with the lawful permanent resident’s qualifying relative at some point.
  • You must have entered the marriage with USC or LPR in good faith. This means you must show that at the time of the marriage you intended to establish a life together. If you only married your spouse for immigration benefits this does not constitute a good faith marriage. 
  • You suffered abuse by a spouse who is a legal resident or U.S. citizen or  you are a child of someone who is suffering abuse by a spouse who is a legal resident or U.S. citizen.
  • You must have suffered abuse at the hands of the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. 
  • You must be a person of good moral character. Good moral character means that you are able to show that you were a person of good moral character for 3 years before filing the VAWA petition. This includes providing police clearances, tax returns, and references from people who know you and can vouch for your character. 

If you meet any of the above criteria, you may be eligible to apply for your own green card rather than waiting for the U.S. citizen to do so for you. 

The VAWA states that you can not be denied admission to low income housing because of violence committed against you. It can be difficult to understand your rights to housing as an immigrant victim of domestic violence. If you meet the criteria mentioned above, call our office at 678-300-0000. The attorneys at Virguez Law may be able to help you file a petition for VAWA. If you have any other questions related to immigration law we can help. Our immigration attorneys in Georgia are experts in their field.

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