The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) can influence your immigration application because it allows victims of extreme cruelty and/or battery to self-petition for a green card so they can become permanent residents in the United States.
If you are a foreign national and your spouse is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, you and your children can avoid deportation by applying for permanent resident status without the knowledge of your abuser. If you are a foreign national and your child is a U.S. citizen over 21 years of age, you can avoid deportation by applying for permanent resident status without the knowledge of your abuser. New Frontier Immigration Law can guide you through the process and help you understand how VAWA can influence your immigration application.
What Is VAWA?
VAWA stands for Violence Against Women Act. The law has been in effect since 1994 and provides victims of extreme cruelty, battery, or domestic violence with services and assistance as well as improving the response to victims by law enforcement.
In 2013, an extension of the law saw the addition of assistance and options for foreign national spouses and children of U.S. citizens, including the ability to self-petition for a green card to remain in the country.
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Can You Apply for a Green Card Under VAWA?
The VAWA Act provides you with the option to self-petition for a green card so you can receive permanent resident status in the United States. Simply file a Form I-360 with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and include the following information for review:
- A description of the relationship between you and your abuser, including any facts relevant to the situation
- A police clearance certificate clarifying if you have a criminal record
- Evidence of the extreme cruelty or battery, which can include police reports and medical records, as well as court records
- Proof that your spouse/child is a United States citizen or a legal permanent resident
- Your marriage certificate and/or your child’s birth certificate
- Proof that you live in the United States
- Evidence that you currently live or have lived with your abuser
You can provide the USCIS with an alternative mailing address so mail is not sent to where your abuser lives. As VAWA is a confidential process, they do not need to know that you are seeking a green card.
Upon approval by the USCIS, you can proceed to apply for work authorization so you can support yourself and your family.
If you have the permanent bar or other inadmissibility issues, you may still qualify for VAWA Deferred Action, which would provide a security protection from deportation and work authorization. Contact our office today for a strategy session to discuss these options!
Can VAWA Lead to Citizenship?
VAWA may provide a path to citizenship by giving victims the ability to self-petition for a green card. If you receive approval for a green card, you will have lawful permanent residence in the United States.
Once you have a green card in your possession, you can apply for citizenship after three years by filing Form N-400. This form does not have a box to select for VAWA eligibility so check the “Other” box and include VAWA in your explanation. Failing to do this could result in you having to wait five years instead of the shorter time frame.
An immigration attorney from our law firm can help you fill out and file your N-400 form to apply for citizenship so you include all the information necessary for USCIS to properly and quickly evaluate your case.
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Does USCIS Investigate VAWA Claims?
Yes. The USCIS will investigate your claims to determine if you qualify for assistance under the VAWA Act.
This is why you must include all of the required information and documentation. Don’t leave anything out if it’s relevant to your case. The more evidence and information you can provide, the stronger your application for VAWA will be.
At New Frontier Immigration Law, we will review your application to ensure you meet the requirements and have included the necessary information and evidence.
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How Long Does the VAWA Immigration Process Take?
Depending on several different factors, it will take 16-32 months for the USCIS to approve your VAWA petition for a green card. The processing time can vary, but you can check the current processing time on the USCIS website.
After receiving your green card for permanent residency, you must wait at least three years to apply for citizenship. It can take up to two years for approval, but before then, USCIS will schedule an interview. If all goes well, you could receive a Notice of Naturalization Ceremony within approximately four weeks of your interview.
Overall, the process can take up to seven years, so patience is necessary.
Learn More About How VAWA Can Influence Your Immigration Application Today
Our law firm is sensitive to your situation. Victims of extreme cruelty, battery, or domestic violence are in a dangerous environment and live in fear. The VAWA Act provides you with an option to self-petition for a green card without your abuser’s knowledge as well as a work permit so you can support yourself and your family independently of them.
An immigration lawyer from New Frontier Immigration Law will help you file the necessary forms and paperwork to obtain a green card and will provide you with regular updates on the status of your case. To schedule a strategy session, contact us today.