Victims of extreme cruelty, battery, or domestic violence have a path to citizenship thanks to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). To apply for citizenship under VAWA, you must file an N-400 Application for Naturalization and have been living in the United States for at least three years.
New Frontier Immigration Law has sympathy and respect for domestic violence victims and one of our immigration lawyers will help you file the necessary paperwork to begin your journey to becoming a United States citizen.
What Is VAWA?
VAWA stands for the Violence Against Women Act, a law signed by former President Bill Clinton in 1994. The law improves the criminal justice response to domestic violence and abuse and provides funding to victim services.
In addition, the law provides protections for immigrant women, including the ability to apply for citizenship. Gaining citizenship opens up access to more benefits for victims.
For a free legal consultation, call (623) 742-5400
Is Applying for Citizenship Easier Through VAWA?
If you are a foreign national spouse or child of a United States citizen and you hold lawful permanent residency (green card), you can apply for citizenship after three years of living in the country instead of waiting the usual five years.
However, the N-400 form does have a complication you must pay attention to because it does not provide a specific box for VAWA eligibility. Simply check the “other” box and mention VAWA in your explanation so you can qualify for the speedier time frame.
An immigration lawyer from our firm will guide you through the citizenship process and review your N-400 form to make sure you have all the necessary information to apply through VAWA.
What Are the Requirements to Apply for Citizenship Through VAWA?
You should file a VAWA I-360 petition for a green card to gain permanent residency in the United States. If you fear your family member, you can provide a different address that is not your own and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will send responses there.
In order to receive approval, you must demonstrate that you meet the requirements of VAWA, which include:
- Description of the relationship between you and your abuser and any facts that are relevant to your situation.
- Provide evidence of the abuse such as police reports, court records, and medical records.
- Obtain a police clearance certificate to clarify if you have a criminal record.
- Provide evidence that your abuser is a United States citizen.
- Provide your marriage certificate or your child’s birth certificate.
- Proof that you reside in the United States.
- Evidence that you live or lived with your abuser.
After the USCIS approves your VAWA petition, if you do not have inadmissibility issues, you can proceed to adjust your status and apply for work authorization. These applications can be filed at the same time.
Once you receive a green card, you can file an N-400 application for citizenship after three years.
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How Long Does a VAWA Petition Take?
Various factors can affect how long it takes for the USCIS to approve your VAWA petition. It usually takes around 16-32 months.
To check current processing times, visit the USCIS website.
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How Long Does it Take to Receive Citizenship Through VAWA?
Like the VAWA petition, the review process takes time after you file an N-400 seeking citizenship through VAWA. It takes 6-24 months to process the application.
The USCIS will schedule an interview with you. After which, if approved, you should receive a Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony within one to four weeks.
What Are the Benefits of Applying for Permanent Residency Through VAWA?
The most important benefit of applying for permanent residency through the Violence Against Women Act is that you and your child can live in the United States without fear of deportation. You want yourself and your child to be safe, so deportation to another country where your lives are potentially at risk is not acceptable.
The law also protects you from further abuse or retaliation because you can apply for a green card without your abuser’s knowledge. You can also work to support yourself and your child to make a better life for yourselves.
Gaining citizenship provides you with all the benefits that citizens enjoy, including the ability to vote in federal elections, the freedom to travel, and family reunification.
Learn More About Applying for Citizenship Through VAWA Today
Applying for permanent residency and citizenship is a complex process that can take years. VAWA provides a shorter path to citizenship for domestic violence and abuse victims. You have a chance to provide yourself and your child with a safer environment and rebuild your lives free of your abuser.
Our law firm is sensitive to your situation and we will work to simplify the process and help you understand it. We will review your applications and ensure that you provide all of the evidence, and documentation, as well as meet all of the requirements before submission to the USCIS.
To schedule a strategy session, contact New Frontier Immigration Law today.
Call or text (623) 742-5400 or complete a Free Case Evaluation form