Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
Self-Petition with a Columbus Immigration Lawyer to Protect Your Best Interests
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was created by Congress to help noncitizen foreign nationals who have suffered abuse at the hands of a spouse or parent who is either a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident. The battered or abused spouse or child can self-petition for immigration status without having to involve the abuser in the process.
If you have been the victim of domestic abuse and believe you may qualify to self-petition under VAWA, our Columbus immigration attorneys can help you determine whether you qualify and how to proceed. We have extensive experience in ever-changing immigration laws and proceedings, and we will work tirelessly to help you achieve your immigration goals.
To self-petition under VAWA, you must be the spouse or child of a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. If you are the child of an abusive citizen or legal permanent resident you must file before reaching the age of 21 or before reaching the age of 25, if you can show that the abuse was the main reason for the delay in applying. You may also apply if you are the parent of an abused child who is under 21, even though you did not experience any abuse yourself. Additionally, if you are applying as the abused spouse of a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident, your children under 21 years of age may also be included in your petition even if they were not abused or are not related to your abuser.
In applying for immigration status under VAWA:
- You must prove that you are currently married to the abuser and that the marriage was entered into in good faith. This means that the marriage was not fraudulent or entered into solely to gain immigration benefits. If you have divorced your abuser, you may still apply within two years of the termination of the marriage if the marriage was terminated because of the abuse.
- If you are a spouse or child, you must prove your relationship with your abuser and show that you resided with the abusive family member.
- Evidence must also be gathered that shows proof of battery, abuse, or extreme cruelty. It is not necessary to have filed a police report of the abuse.
- You must also be a person of good moral character. Good moral character can be shown by conducting a background check and proving a clean criminal record. Affidavits from friends, family members, and employers can also be used to show good moral character.
If you have been a victim of physical abuse at the hands of your U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse or parent, do not wait to call The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates. Our immigration attorneys are experienced in defending the rights of foreign nationals in all areas of immigration. Spanish-speaking attorneys are also available.
Violence Against Women Defined
To get relief under VAWA, a battered noncitizen must prove that she has been battered or subject to extreme cruelty by a spouse who is or was a U.S. citizen and who entered into the marriage in good faith.
“Battered” is described as an act or threatened act of violence, or an act or threatened act of forceful detention which results or threatens to result in physical or mental injury. The definition of a battered spouse includes physical harm.
“Extreme cruelty” provides an inquiry into an individual's experience of mental or psychological cruelty, an alternative measure of domestic violence that can also be assessed on the basis of objective standards. Ultimately, the question of whether an individual has experienced domestic violence in either its physical or psychological manifestation is a clinical one.
“Extreme cruelty” has been held broad enough to encompass the following:
- Psychological or sexual abuse or exploitation;
- Rape, molestation, incest (if the victim is a minor); and/or
- Forced prostitution.
Our Columbus Immigration Attorneys Are Experienced & Compassionate
Our immigration lawyers have experience and success with these situations and will gently take care of your case with the utmost confidentiality and sensitivity. We understand what you are going through and have the knowledge to help you cope with your situation. Often times, you will need the assistance of medical or other professionals to assess your situation and we can advise you on the best course of action that will help you overcome these challenges.
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