The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has helped address a weakness in current immigration law. Many applicants for lawful permanent residence rely on a parent or spouse to sponsor them. But this person could also be abusing them, which makes it impossible to get away without jeopardizing one’s immigration status.
Fortunately, VAWA has made it possible for victims of domestic violence to petition for lawful permanent residence on their own. Below, an Austin immigration lawyer helps break down the most important information you need to know.
Who Can Apply?
You could be eligible to receive a green card under VAWA if you are abused by:
- A U.S. citizen who is your spouse (current or former)
- A U.S. citizen parent
- A U.S. citizen child
- A parent who is a lawful permanent resident
- A spouse or former spouse who is a lawful permanent resident
What Are the Requirements?
The requirements will differ depending on the case. If you are making an application for marriage-based VAWA, then you need to show the following:
- Your spouse is or was a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident
- You were legally married
- You lived with the abusive spouse
- You were abused by your spouse during the marriage
- You had a bona fide marriage, meaning you did not enter the marriage solely to obtain immigration benefits
- You are a person of good moral character
If you are already in removal proceedings, then you will want to pursue cancellation of removal, which is available under VAWA but has different requirements.
How Do You Prove Abuse?
Abuse can take different forms. It can include physical violence, such as battery, but also extreme cruelty. No two cases are alike, and there is no requirement that you have a police report. However, a police report is definitely a helpful piece of evidence. Other evidence includes:
- Restraining orders
- Medical records
- Records from a domestic violence shelter
- Witness statements
You also need to submit an affidavit. This affidavit will go into detail about the abuse or extreme cruelty you have faced. You should also discuss other topics, such as how you got into the marriage. This is key, because if you committed marriage fraud, then you can be denied a green card on that ground alone.
How Do You Prove a Bona Fide Marriage?
Immigration officials are always on the look-out for marriage fraud, so you will need to establish that your marriage was legitimate. Certain records are helpful, especially if they establish that you actually lived with your spouse. Things like tax returns and mortgage or rental records can show you shared a life.
Call Us Today to Schedule a Consultation with an Immigration Lawyer in Austin
Making an application for lawful permanent residence under VAWA is complicated, and you should not try to navigate the immigration bureaucracy alone. Michael G. Murray, P.A., is an established law firm that has helped many abused immigrants start a new life in the U.S. Give our office a call, (512) 215-4407, or fill out our contact form.
View more contact information here: Immigration Lawyer in Austin.