Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) provides protection to immigrant spouses (both male and female), children, and parents who are victims of abuse (physical abuse or extreme mental cruelty) by their U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, parent, or son/daughter. Under VAWA, eligible victims are able to self-petition to obtain lawful permanent resident status.
An abused spouse, or the parent of a child who was abused by their U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse, must have entered in to the marriage in good faith (i.e. not in order to evade the immigration laws), and must have been legally married to the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident when the abuse occurred.
Termination of Marriage or Death of Spouse
However, a self-petition may be filed even if the marriage has been terminated where the abusive spouse’s death occurred within two years prior to filing, or the marriage was terminated by a divorce related to the abuse, within two years prior to filing. An abused spouse whose marriage to the abuser was bigamous may self-petition if they demonstrate that at the time of the marriage they believed the abuser to be legally free to marry, and a marriage ceremony was actually performed.
A self-petitioning child must be unmarried and less than 21 years of age at the time of filing, or, where it is demonstrated that the abuse suffered was a central reason for the filing delay, may file until the age of 25.
An abused parent may self-petition if their abusive son/daughter is a United States citizen, lost or renounced U.S. citizenship within the past two years due to an incident of abuse, or died. The parent must have resided with the abusive son/daughter, be a person of good moral character and eligible to be classified as an Immediate Relative.
If you think you are eligible for a petition based on VAWA, call the Law Offices of Oti W. Nwosu, LLC in Arlington at (703) 294-6627, the Immigration Outreach office in Baltimore at (410) 243-0340, or use the consultation form to describe your case.