VAWA: A Lifeline for Survivors of Domestic Violence in Immigration Cases

Domestic violence is an issue that impacts individuals all over the world, especially in vulnerable communities like immigrants in the U.S. To combat the challenges faced and provide legal protection for survivors in these communities, congress passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 1994. If you’re a survivor of domestic violence, it’s important to know that there are legal mechanisms in place that will protect you and provide immigration benefits for the support and opportunities you need.

Empowerment Through VAWA

VAWA’s primary benefit is that it gives immigrants the ability to file a self-petition without the knowledge or consent of the abusing U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or parent. It’s quite effective, and as a result, it has been reauthorized several times over the years to continue helping survivors gain independence. If the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) accepts the petition, the survivor has the ability to work toward legal residency and a green card.

In order to file a VAWA self-petition, specific eligible individuals must provide documentation and evidence for the application process. Those who are eligible to self-petition include parents, spouses, or children under 21 who were abused by an immediate family member who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The USCIS created a checklist of evidence that must be provided and includes, but is not limited to: 

– Personal statements describing the abuse and its impact on you and your family.

– Police reports, medical records, or other documents that corroborate the abuse.

– Affidavits from witnesses who can confirm the abuse or its consequences.

– Documentation proving your continuous residence in the U.S.

– Proving that your removal from the U.S. would result in exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to you or your qualifying relatives.

VAWA is also sometimes used effectively as a defense against deportation. By meeting the eligibility criteria and presenting compelling evidence, you can apply for cancellation of removal and prevent your deportation. The qualifications and evidence that must be provided are essentially the same, however, due to the urgency of the situation, time is of the essence. An immigration attorney can assist in collecting the appropriate information and clarifying eligibility requirements.

VAWA is an extremely powerful tool for those seeking permanent residency in the U.S. It has the ability to safeguard those who need it and open the doors for opportunities when it seemed like there were none. At whatever stage you are in on your journey, an immigration attorney will be able to assist during this challenging process, and offer resources that can lead to a successful outcome. A happy life is waiting for you in the U.S. and the team at RelisLaw is ready to help. If you would like to discuss potential options for permanent residency, call (917) 451-7792 for a consultation.

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We help people from around the world to live and work freely in the U.S., to achieve their dreams, unite families, or escape persecution. No matter what immigration service you need, RelisLaw will provide caring and dependable counsel to you and aggressive advocacy to vigorously fight for you using every available legal avenue. As a global firm, we work with people in countries around the world. We meet clients across the U.S., as well as in New York, Toronto, and Montréal. We also meet with clients globally, located in any country, via Skype and other platforms.

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