Forms of Abuse in VAWA Applications

Eligibility for submitting a VAWA application is not exclusively reserved for victims of physical abuse, because abuse is not exclusively physical and there are many forms of abuse that qualify a person for a VAWA application. A Maryland VAWA immigration lawyer knows that psychological abuse can certainly qualify, as can emotional or sexual abuse, though many cases are strengthened and easier to prove with the VAWA unit if physical abuse is present. This should not discourage anyone from submitting a VAWA application, as there have been many cases where emotional, psychological, or sexual abuse have occurred and those are all enough. While physical abuse is the easiest to prove, there have been a number of successfully adjudicated cases that have not involved physical abuse.

Duration of Abuse

In a lot of cases it is easier to prove the suffering that has been endured, which is a requirement for VAWA, if it has been a long-term abusive situation. However, even one situation that qualifies as abuse can lead to a successful VAWA application.

Proving Mental Abuse

Proving mental abuse can be difficult, but it is absolutely possible and it completely depends upon the situation. A big factor in proving mental abuse surrounds the people that an individual may have spoken to regarding the abuse; who knew of the abuse, and who may have been spoken to about it while the individual was in the situation or after they left the abusive relationship.

It really depends on the case, and there are no limits or boundaries set by USCIS on the types of evidence that can be submitted. Sometimes, if there is an abusive situation, for example if someone broke a wall and the wall had to be replaced, evidence can be submitted of the handyman that came to fix the hole and that can be used to support claims of abuse.

In these cases, the personal declaration is the primary document that will prove the abuse, but there are all sorts of different types of documentary evidence that can help corroborate what is being claimed in an individual’s statement.

Knowledge of VAWA and Its Benefits

The most important thing to know is that this type of application is out there. It is not very well publicized and people who are probably eligible for VAWA benefits just do not know that the application exists. While many domestic violence shelters that regularly provide for immigrant populations do typically have knowledge of this, there are also many that do not, and unfortunately there is not a significant amount of outreach.

If someone with knowledge of VAWA ever sees anyone in their life or suspects that an individual is in an abusive situation, it is important to reach out to them and ensure that they know VAWA is an option. Oftentimes people remain in abusive relationships longer because they feel that they do not have access to social support networks or access to help due to their immigration status.

Many people do not know their rights, and they do not know that these types of options are out there. Increased community outreach would let more people know about VAWA, which can be a very good choice for individuals that do not have any other options available.

Right now, the USCIS is claiming that I-360 petitions are being adjudicated in five months, but that is likely an underestimate or a very low-ball estimate because they generally take longer than that. It all depends on the individual case and how many requests for evidence a person is issued, as well as the point in time in which they are applying, but there is no way to expedite the process.