What is the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)?
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) provides federal grants and programs that help to prevent domestic violence, as well as to protect those who suffer from family abuse. The protections and benefits provide by VAWA are many. It includes special provision for Cancellation of Removal for certain victims of domestic violence. Another protection of the Act is to allow domestic violence victims who are in the United States based on the citizenship or residency of a relative, such as a spouse, to self-petition for lawful permanent residency. The exact process varies depending on the immigration status of the perpetrator of the violence.
Who is eligible to Self-Petition?
Victims of domestic violence and abuse from an immediate family member who is a U.S. Citizen or lawful permanent resident are eligible to file a petition under the VAWA Act.
Those who are eligible include:
• The abused spouse of a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident. Please note that you do not need to be married in order to file under VAWA. However, generally, you must file within two years of divorce to petition under VAWA. If the spouse is not the victim, but a child or the children are being abused, the spouse is still eligible to apply.
• Abused children
• Even though the Act refers specifically to women, men and children may apply under VAWA to petition for permanent residency as well.
VAWA applicants are able to self-petition for immigration benefits. This means you can petition for permanent residency without the abuser’s help or knowledge.
What will you need to show?
There are several requirements if you plan to petition for permanent residency under the Violence Against Women Act:
• If applicable, you must be able to show proof that you entered into a legal and “good-faith marriage” with the abuser, which means that you were not married as an attempt to bypass normal immigration rules and laws.
• You will also need to show that you are the victim of battery or extreme cruelty by supplying any credible evidence. One aspect of this will be your affidavit, which is a very important document that an immigration attorney can provide assistance in helping you to complete.
• Abuse may take many forms. It can include physical sexual, and psychological abuse.
• You will have to show that you or the victim of abuse actually lived with the abuser.
• Your own character will also be considered, and any arrests or convictions in the three years previous to your petition will be examined.
• Other documentation will also need to be gathered and presented in reference to support proof of the above criteria, which may include various articles, documents, letters or affidavits from you and people who know you.
What is the application process?
• You will receive a receipt notice approximately two weeks after the petition is filed.
• You will receive notice of “Establishment of Prima Facie” case, which means that it appears that you have satisfied all of the requirements for approval, even though you have not yet been approved.
• If more information is needed, you will receive a “Request for Evidence.”
• If your petition is approved, either your status will be set to a low priority for removal from the United States or, if you are married to a U.S. Citizen, your case will be transferred to a local district in order to set up an interview for a Green Card.
How can the Law Offices of Jorge Rodriguez-Choi help you?
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) applications, petitions and process can be more complicated than simply filling out a form and waiting for results. There are a number of procedural and material requirements for obtaining these benefits, and navigating through the process can be very daunting and time-consuming. For this reason, it is advisable to obtain the advice and assistance of a qualified immigration lawyer like attorney Jorge Rodriguez-Choi to handle the matter. He has experience assisting individuals in VAWA issues. He is fluent in Spanish and can communicate directly with clients and their family members, as well as understand documents in these languages.
If you need a competent attorney to handle your VAWA matter, a lawyer experienced in all aspects of VAWA petitions can make the process more manageable, as well as provide relevant context pertaining to how the matter is proceeding and what you can reasonably expect in terms of both time frame and success in obtaining the desired benefits.
Get legal help from an experienced immigration attorney in San Francisco or Oakland
Contact our immigration lawyer at the Law Offices of Jorge Rodriguez-Choi to schedule a free 10 minute telephonic assessment of your immigration case. Call us today at 510-267-1927.
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