Orlando VAWA Attorney
Do you know someone who is a battered spouse, child, or parent? Unfortunately, domestic violence is all too common.
As a battered spouse, child, or parent, you may file an immigrant visa petition under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
What is VAWA?
The VAWA, originally passed in 1994 is a United States federal law that both acknowledged domestic violence and sexual assault as crimes, and provided resources to support the investigation and prosecution of such crimes against women. Under the INA, immigrant women and children can also benefit from VAWA allowing them to file immigrant visa petitions for themselves. The Act, reauthorized in 2013, now also allows certain spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizens, as well as certain spouses and children of permanent residents (Green Card holders) to file a petition for themselves, without the abuser's knowledge. This allows immigrant victims to privately seek both safety and independence from their abusers without fear of their knowledge.
Who does VAWA apply to?
The VAWA provisions, under the INA, apply equally to women and men, immigrant and citizen.
You are eligible to file under VAWA if you are a:
- Spouse: You may file for yourself if you are, or were, the abused spouse of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. You may also file as an abused spouse if your child has been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse. You may also include on your petition your unmarried children who are under 21 if they have not filed for themselves.
- Parent: You may file if you are the parent of a U.S. citizen and you have been abused by your U.S. citizen son or daughter.
- Child: You may file for yourself if you are an abused child under 21, unmarried and have been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent. Your children may also be included on your petition. You may also file for yourself as a child after age 21 but before age 25 if you can demonstrate that the abuse was the main reason for the delay in filing.
VAWA eligibility requirements for a spouse:
- You are married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident abuser, you entered the marriage in good faith (not solely for immigration benefits), you have resided with your spouse, you are a person of good moral character AND:
You or your child have suffered battery/extreme cruelty by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse.
- Your marriage to the abuser was terminated by death or a divorce (related to the abuse) within the 2 years prior to filing your petition, or
- Your spouse lost or renounced citizenship or permanent resident status within the 2 years prior to filing your petition due to an incident of domestic violence, or
- You believed that you were legally married to your abusive U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse but the marriage was illegitimate solely because of the bigamy of your abusive spouse
Eligibility requirements for a child:
A person filing for themselves is considered a child under the age of 21, but may file under the Act as a child until the age of 25 if you can demonstrate that the abuse was the main reason for the delay in filing.
- You are the child of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident abuser, or:
- You are the child of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident abuser who lost citizenship or lawful permanent resident status due to an incident of domestic violence.
- You have suffered battery/extreme cruelty by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent, and:
- You have resided with your abusive parent, and
- You are a person of good moral character. A child that is less than 14 years of age is presumed to be a person of good moral character
Eligibility requirements for a parent:
- You are the parent of a U.S. citizen son or daughter who is at least 21 years of age when the self-petition is filed, or:
- You are the parent of a U.S. citizen son or daughter who lost or renounced citizenship status related to an incident of domestic violence, or
- You are the parent of a U.S. citizen son or daughter who was at least 21 years of age and who died within 2 years prior to filing the self-petition.
- You have suffered battery or extreme cruelty by your U.S. citizen son or daughter and:
- You have resided with the abusive son or daughter.
How does the filing process work?
In order to apply for a green card under VAWA, you must first fill out United States Center for Immigration Services Form I-360 and submit it to USCIS. You will also need to send documentary evidence that you meet all the eligibility requirements mentioned above, such as:
- a declaration describing your relationship, the abuse you suffered, your good moral character, and anything else relevant to proving your eligibility,
- other evidence of the abuse, such as police or hospital records or court-issued protective orders,
- police clearance records showing your criminal record, or lack thereof, and other evidence that you are a person of "good moral character"—you can obtain the certificates from the police department of any town you have lived in during the last three years for more than six months,
- proof that the abuser is a U.S. citizen or green card holder,
- proof that you are the abuser’s spouse, child, or parent (marriage or birth certificate),
- proof that you lived with the abuser, and
- proof that you currently live in the U.S.
There is a customary filing fee, but it is not required for self-petitioning abused spouses, parents, or children.
Help is also available from the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TDD). The hotline has information about shelters, mental health care, legal advice and other types of assistance, including information about filing for immigration status. For more information, visit the National Domestic Violence website.
Contact Our VAWA Attorney in Orlando, FL
If you know of a foreign battered spouse, child, or parent, please contact our experienced VAWA lawyer at Mubarak Law in Orlando today. We have helped many clients in the past and will be happy to help you too. We offer a free phone consultation at (407) 502-3000. You may also fill out our online form located on this page and we will get back to you shortly. We have a 24-hour emergency service. Your privacy is very important to us and we will keep your information confidential.