Immigration Attorneys Helping Victims File VAWA Petitions in Cleveland and Across the US
The Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”) is a law that protects certain battered immigrant spouses, parents, and children. Despite its name, VAWA does not only protect women. VAWA allows for these individuals to file for lawful status without having to rely on an abusive US citizen or green card holder relative. If you believe you may qualify for relief under VAWA, please contact a Cleveland immigration lawyer at our offices today to discuss your particular situation.
Eligibility Requirements – Who Can File
A VAWA petitioner must prove that the abuser is a US citizen or green card holder. He or she must also meet other requirements, depending on the type of petitioner who is filing.
A petitioner may file for him or herself if he or she is (or was) the abused spouse of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. A petitioner may also file as an abused spouse if his or her child has been abused by a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse. The petitioner may also include on the petition any unmarried children who are under 21 if they have not filed for themselves.
A petitioner may also file if he or she is the parent of a U.S. citizen, and he or she has been abused by that U.S. citizen son or daughter.
Finally, a petitioner may file for him or herself if he or she is an abused child under 21, unmarried and has been abused by a U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent. The petitioner’s children may also be included on your petition. The petitioner may also file for him or herself as a child even after turning 21 but before turning 25 if he or she can demonstrate that the abuse was the main reason for the delay in filing.
For each of the above relationships, the petitioner will need to provide different evidentiary documents.
The Filing Process
Sometimes proving a relationship or proving the requisite level of abuse can be very difficult to accomplish, especially when the abuser had full control of the victim. Our office has experience with helping you to prepare a written statement and gather all of the evidence needed in support of your filing. We make sure that you meet all of the requirements as we prepare your filing. We can also put you in touch with mental health experts who can provide other often much-needed assistance as you go through this process and beyond. We do not file anything until we are satisfied with what we are putting before the government. We then stay by your side and prepare you for what to expect next.
If you are a victim of abuse who is living abroad, you may file the self-petition while you are abroad only if the abuser is an employee of the US government, the abuser is a member of the uniformed services, or the victim was subjected to battery or extreme cruelty in the United States. Again, we can help you to determine whether you meet one of these requirements.
If a filing is approvable when it is filed, USCIS will generally grant deferred action. That means the petitioner is safe from deportation. With an approved petition, you and any children listed on your original petition may apply to work in the United States.
The USCIS Decision
After the government approves a VAWA self-petition, the petitioner is eligible to apply for a green card. Depending on the basis of the original filing, some petitioners may be able to file for a green card right away. Others will have to wait until a visa is available, and they will need to continue to renew their employment authorization while they wait. We can explain this process to you depending on your unique filing.
Finally, you must keep in mind that not all petitions are approved. The government may issue a Request for additional Evidence or a Notice of Intent to Deny. When this happens, the government typically allows the petitioner to respond within a limited period of time with more information and/or documentation. If a VAWA self-petition is denied, the petitioner will have 33 days to file a Notice of Appeal. The petitioner may also want to consider filing a motion to reopen or a motion to reconsider, depending on the circumstances. Particularly if faced with a denial, it is best to contact an experienced attorney immediately to discuss one’s options.
If you have been the victim of battery or extreme cruelty by a US citizen or green card holder relative and you do not have a lawful immigration status, contact us today to see if you are eligible to file for a VAWA self-petition.
Let the experienced immigration attorneys at Hammond Law Group help you!