The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has immigration provisions to protect non-resident victims of domestic violence. Though other provisions of VAWA expired in 2018, the immigration provisions do not require congressional reauthorization, and therefore remain in effect. This means that non-citizens and non-residents are still entitled to legal protection in the immigration process.
If you or a loved one is the victim of domestic violence, our experienced immigration attorneys can help you file for legal immigration status. Your petition does not depend on the abuser’s consent – in fact, the abuser does not even have to be notified about your petition. Call Murray & Silva, P.A. today at (305) 895-2500 to discuss your options.
The Process of Filing a VAWA Petition
A VAWA petition begins by filing a Form I-360 with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. The form must be accompanied by a filing fee (currently $435) and supporting documentation. This documentation must prove both the victim’s status (such as a birth certificate or marriage license) and the allegations of abuse. This evidence might include police reports, medical records, photographs, or affidavits from witnesses who saw abusive behavior.
Current estimates for I-360 processing times range from anywhere from six months to two years. Unfortunately, the timeline cannot be controlled by the petitioner. Administrative problems, staffing shortages, backlogs, government shutdowns, and other common issues delay all federal government operations – including immigration petition processing.
Because this process can be lengthy, it is important for abuse victims to put safety plans and support systems in place before starting the immigration process. Here in the Miami area, there are hotlines available to all victims of domestic violence. These hotlines can connect victims with a network of resources, such as shelters, information about restraining orders, and medical services. It is important to understand that victims can access these resources regardless of their immigration status. The National Domestic Hotline has information available to immigrants about the methods of coercion a citizen may use to abuse a non-citizen and the services that are available to those without legal immigration status.
By accessing these services, victims can become less dependent upon their abuser. This is also the goal of a VAWA immigration petition: by obtaining legal immigration status on their own, victims will not be reliant upon their abusers for permission to be in the United States.
Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a Miami Immigration Lawyer
United States immigration law has protections for victims of domestic violence. It is critical for abuse victims to gain their own lawful immigration status independent of an abuser. By becoming legally independent of an abusive relationship, victims can help ensure their own personal safety and that of children and family members. Call Murray & Silva, P.A. today at (305) 895-2500 or contact us online to talk to an immigration lawyer in Miami.