In 1994, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that created special routes to obtaining immigration status for certain battered noncitizens. One of the requirements for eligibility is that the battered noncitizen must be the spouse or child of an abusive United States citizen or permanent resident. The VAWA allows for the battered person to apply for immigration status without the knowledge or involvement of the abuser. This takes away the power of the abuser to state to the victim that they cannot report the abuse or they will be sent back to their country of origin.

To be eligible for the VAWA petition, also known as the I-360 Form Self-Petition, the petitioner must prove that they are the spouse, unmarried child or child under the age of 21, or parent who was physically battered or subject to extreme cruelty by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. The abuse may include evidence of: physical abuse, violent acts or threats of violence, sexual abuse or exploitation, verbal abuse and degradation, emotional abuse, isolation, intimidation, economic abuse, coercion or threats to take away children or have one deported. There is no requirement that there be a police report documenting the abuse. If the petitioner claims that their spouse abused them they must also prove that the marriage was entered into in good faith, that the abuse occurred during the marriage, and that the marriage is still valid or was terminated less than two years prior to filing the VAWA petition. The abuse must have occurred in the United States and the victim must have lived with the abuser. Finally, the petitioner must provide evidence that they have “good moral character.” This means that a review of the petitioner’s criminal record or other immigration transgressions will be completed. There are certain arrests that may be waived if the petitioner can show such actions were connected to the abuse they suffered.

If a person is eligible for a VAWA petition they may also file for derivative status for certain children and parents of the petitioner. Immigrants that can establish the previously outlined requirements will be given a prima facie determination, meaning they will be reviewed at first sight and then they may be eligible for certain public benefits and may be eligible for work authorization upon the VAWA petition approval. If the VAWA petition is approved, the applicant is granted a deferred action status if they are facing a removal or deportation proceeding. This means that the proceedings will be stopped due to the VAWA petition.

Contact our Miami-Dade County Exceptional Circumstances Immigration Attorneys

Contact our Miami employment based visa attorneys at 305-222-7351, toll free at 1-844-VARI-LAW (1-844-827-4529), or e-mail us to schedule an appointment to discuss your Dade County, Broward County, or Monroe County immigration questions and issues.

Our Miami Immigration lawyers accept immigration law cases in Miami-Dade County, Broward County and Monroe County.

Consultations are available in Miami and at several meeting locations throughout Dade and Broward Counties including Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, Galiano Street in Coral Gables, West Country Club Drive in Aventura, Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood and in the Homestead area. Appointments are also available by telephone and via Skype internet video chat.