Unfortunately, there are instances in which noncitizen spouses and children are abused by United States citizens or permanent residents. These victims may feel helpless in this situation, as they do not want to jeopardize their opportunity to remain in the country. The United States has acknowledged this far-too-common issue and has since established the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Continue reading to learn the eligibility requirements for obtaining a visa through VAWA and how one of the experienced Wisconsin immigration attorneys at Sesini Law Group, S.C. can guide you toward safety.
By definition, what is the Violence Against Women Act?
Simply put, VAWA allows for a battered spouse and their children to self-petition for immigration status in the United States. Most importantly, this application process may be conducted without the knowledge or involvement of the abuser.
What are the eligibility requirements for obtaining a visa through VAWA?
This special route toward a visa is designated for a certain set of individuals. That is, VAWA consists of the following eligibility requirements:
- The individual must be the spouse; parent; unmarried child under the age of 21; or parent of an unmarried child under the age of 21, who is being subject to extreme cruelty by a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident who is the spouse, parent, or adult child.
- The individual must have been a victim of physical abuse; violent acts or threats of violence; verbal abuse; emotional abuse; sexual abuse; financial abuse; threats of deportation; or otherwise.
- The individual must have been a victim of such abuse while staying in the United States and while living with the abuser.
- The individual must have evidence of their good moral character (i.e., no criminal record or immigration transgressions).
Specifically, if you are self-petitioning as a spouse of an abuser, then you must have evidence that you entered into the marriage in good faith; that the abuse occurred during the marriage; and that your marriage is still valid or was terminated less than two years ago.
What happens if I meet these eligibility requirements?
If you meet all the aforementioned eligibility criteria, then you may proceed forward with Form I-360, Self-Petition (VAWA Petition).
Once approved, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may grant you deferred action. This means that any removal or deportation proceedings against you may be barred. While waiting for lawful permanent resident status, you may apply for a work authorization visa to ensure your remaining in the county.
From here, your immediate relatives (i.e., spouses, parents, and/or unmarried children under the age of 21) may also be eligible to adjust their status. Similarly, they may apply for a work authorization visa in the meantime.
You must take your visa application seriously. So pick up the phone and call one of the skilled Wisconsin immigration attorneys today. Someone at Sesini Law Group, S.C. will be happy to answer.