Demonstrating Eligibility in DC VAWA Applications

In order to be eligible for an immigration visa under the Violence Against Women Act there are a few requirements which much be met including the documentation of abuse and the establishment of good moral character. For more on the steps you can take to ensure your eligibility and apply for a visa, consult with a DC VAWA attorney today.

Documentation and Supporting Evidence

The supporting evidence and documentation required for the VAWA application differs with every case. In some cases there might be a situation in which people have called the police several times, meaning there will be police records or maybe even hospital reports or medical records if the abuse resulted in physical injury. On the other hand, in some cases you won’t have any kind of “hard” evidence because the victim may be totally isolated will not be talking about the situation to anyone. They may have never called the police or spoken to anyone about the abuse, so there might not be much evidence aside from the victim’s own declaration.

Working with Mental Health Professionals

In these types of cases it’s generally good to send the applicant to speak to a psychiatrist or a therapist, who after a number of sessions can provide a letter of support. We prefer to do this with many clients not only for the additional evidence it can provide for the application, but because it’s good for the applicant themselves to get some treatment. Our VAWA attorneys have spoken to many individuals who have been through incredibly traumatic experiences and have not had any support. Often, an immigration attorney will be the first person the victim will be discussing the abuse with at all, and it’s clear that they need additional support to cope with what they’ve been through.

Establishing Moral Character

Good moral character is defined statutorily in the Immigration and Nationality Act, so there are certain actions and criminal offenses that will formally bar you from establishing that you have it.  But, even if you are not statutorily barred, good moral character determinations can also be made on a discretionary basis.  If you have a number of minor offenses, there may not be any one of them that formally bars you from establishing it, but USCIS adjudicators could look at them in the cumulative to made the determination that you lack good moral character.  Again, it involves a case-by-case analysis.

Proving Good Moral Character

In order to establish good moral character, an attorney will have to submit a police clearance letter from every jurisdiction you’ve lived within the last three years for more than six months. And also supply other documents like character reference letters from people you know, maybe people you work with, bosses, neighbors, friends, family members, that kind of thing.

Demonstrating Abuse

The VAWA applicant needs to have been the victim of abuse. Mental, psychological, sexual, emotional–all types of abuses can go into a VAWA claim. It doesn’t have to specifically be physical abuse.

Proving Mental Abuse

It can be a bit of a higher bar without physical abuse, but there are many ways to prove mental abuse. Sometimes it can involve people who use finances as a way to control a spouse and not allow them access to cars or transportation, making the spouse feel trapped within the home. There are many different ways that mental abuse can manifest itself, but, the basic answer is you need to tell the individual story. There’s a lot of different ways that abuse can happen and psychological abuse can be just as extreme as physical. Sometimes more.