If you or a loved one is an immigrant to the United States, and is a battered spouse, child or parent, you may file an immigrant visa petition under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). In order to do so, you and/or your Miami immigration attorney will likely file a I-360 Abused Spouse Petition. One consideration often overlooked is that abuse does not ALWAYS mean physical. This is why a consultation with an experienced immigration lawyer is important to determine if you qualify as an abused spouse, parent, or child.
Safety Provisions within VAWA
The VAWA provisions in the INA allow certain spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizens and certain spouses and children of permanent residents (Green Card holders) to file a petition for themselves, without the abuser’s knowledge. This allows victims to seek both safety and independence from their abuser, who is not notified about the filing.
Who is Eligible to File?
- Spouse: You and/or your Miami immigration attorney may file for yourself if you are, or were, the abused spouse of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. You may also file as an abused spouse if your child has been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse.
- Parent: You and/or your Miami immigration attorney may file if you are the parent of a U.S. citizen, and you have been abused by your U.S. citizen son or daughter.
- Child: You and/or your Miami immigration attorney may file for yourself if you are an abused child under 21, unmarried and have been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent. Your children may also be included on your petition.
Eligibility Requirements for a Spouse
- Qualifying spousal relationship:
- You are married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident abuser or
- your marriage to the abuser was terminated by death or a divorce (related to the abuse) within the 2 years prior to filing your petition, or
- your spouse lost or renounced citizenship or permanent resident status within the 2 years prior to filing your petition due to an incident of domestic violence, or
- you believed that you were legally married to your abusive U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse but the marriage was not legitimate solely because of the bigamy of your abusive spouse.
- You have suffered battery/extreme cruelty by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse:
- You have been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, or
- your child has been subjected to battery or extreme cruelty by your U.S. or permanent resident spouse.
- You entered into the marriage in good faith, not solely for immigration benefits.
- You have resided with your spouse.
- You are a person of good moral character.
Working in the United States
If you have an approved Form I-360, you are eligible to apply to work in the United States. In addition, if you have an approved Form I-360 and have been placed in deferred action, you are eligible to apply to work in the United States. To apply to work in the United States, your Miami immigration attorney may file the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
Permanent Residence (Green Card)
If you have an approved Form I-360, you may be eligible to file for a green card. If you are a self-petitioning spouse or child, your children listed on your approved Form I-360 may also be eligible to apply for a green card.
If you think would like more information on green cards and/or obtaining your permanent residence via the abused spouse petition, please contact Miami immigration attorney Michael G. Murray, Esq. at (305)895-2500 or visit our website at www. mmurraylaw.com