If you qualify as a battered non-citizen spouse, you may be eligible for legal permanent residence under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Call a DC VAWA immigration lawyer today if you’re interested in learning more about this legal path of entry into the United States.
Our experienced DC VAWA attorneys understand the urgency and high stakes of these types of cases, and we are here to work compassionately and diligently on your case. Contact our law offices today to schedule a free consultation with one of our immigration attorneys.
VAWA and Immigration
In 1994, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), creating the opportunity for battered non-citizen spouses and children to self-petition for legal permanent residence. Thanks to the efforts of immigration advocacy and domestic violence prevention groups throughout the country, the VAWA legislation was most recently re-authorized in 2013. Those who qualify for VAWA can apply for legal status in the U.S. without relying on their abuser and without having to leave the United States. Contact a VAWA immigration lawyer in DC for help with the immigration application procedure or if you have questions about eligibility.
VAWA applicants must prove that they are (or were) the spouse or child of an abusive U.S. citizen or Legal Permanent Resident, and must be able to provide evidence of the abuse and/or battery. Victims can submit a wide range of evidence in order to prove the abuse, including personal declarations, affidavits from medical personnel, school officials, clergy, social workers, mental health professionals or other friends or family members who were aware of the abuse, as well as documentation of other “nonqualifying” incidents or abuses that could be considered part of an overall pattern of abuse. If you want more information on how to apply for a VAWA application:
- The VAWA Application Process
- What You Need to Demonstrate in VAWA Applications
- What is the Violence Against Women Act?
- Cancellation of Removal & VAWA
VAWA applicants are also required to prove good moral character in order to qualify, so victims with serious criminal records can sometimes be excluded. However, there are waivers available for many criminal convictions if the applicant can prove that the offense was somehow connected to the abuse. Potential applicants with criminal records should consult a VAWA attorney to evaluate whether the convictions can be waived.
One very important benefit of the VAWA application for many victims is the fact that the application is completely confidential. In other words, it is illegal to release any information about a pending VAWA case – especially to the abuser. This is a comforting fact to applicants who may still be living or still have contact with their abuser and fear retaliation if they submit the application. The VAWA petition will never show up on the abuser’s record, and applicants can rest assured that their abuser will not learn of the application unless they disclose it themselves to him or her.
Upon approval of a VAWA application, a victim can immediately apply for employment authorization. However, a VAWA application is not the only available immigration for victims of crimes. Contact our DC VAWA immigration attorneys today to learn more about the various visas available for entry into the United States.
Why Is Hiring An Attorney For VAWA Case Important?
Hiring an immigration attorney for VAWA cases is especially important in cases where you don’t have police reports or charges haven’t been filed, it’s important to have a VAWA attorney to advice you about the documentary requirements that you’re going to need to satisfy in order to prove your case. If you don’t have these sorts of pieces of hard evidence like hospital records or police reports, you have to effectively tell your story in other ways.
When you work wih a DC VAWA lawyer, you have someone to help guide you through the process. A lot of times it can be an emotionally difficult application to put together so it’s important to have somebody that can be disconnected emotionally from the situation to help you assemble the best argument.
Frequently-asked questions about VAWA:
I was in an abusive relationship, but am no longer married to my USC/LPR spouse. Can I still qualify for VAWA?
Yes. Although a spouse must have been married to their U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident abuser at one point in time, this does not mean that they still must be married. A spouse may apply for VAWA if the marriage ended in divorce or death of the abusive spouse less than two years prior to USCIS’s receipt of the application.
I was in a psychologically or emotionally abusive relationship, but my spouse was never physically violent with me. Can I still qualify for VAWA?
Yes. Physical abuse is not required for an abusive relationship to qualify for VAWA. However, the applicant must still provide evidence of the psychological/emotional abuse.
I was in an abusive relationship with my USC/LPR spouse, but I never filed a police report. Can I still qualify for VAWA?
Yes. Unlike the U visa application, a VAWA applicant is not required to have had any contact with police or law enforcement in order to qualify. However, if police reports exist, they can serve as important evidence in proving the abuse.