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Violence against women act (VAWA petition)

Domestic violence can manifest in a series of abusive behaviors. The batterer uses these acts of violence to silence and control the victim through intimidation, threats, psychological abuse, etc. Nobody deserves to be abused and there are laws to protect people from such destructive behavior. This is the case of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), enacted by Congress in 1994. A VAWA lawyer Miami can help you with your VAWA petition and make the whole process much easier.

What is the violence against women act?

VAWA is intended to change attitudes towards domestic violence and revise the way the criminal justice system handles these matters. VAWA protects woman by:

  • Making rapists accountable for the crimes they commit.
  • Victims don’t have to pay for their rape exams or protection order service.
  • Keep the victims safe through requiring the recognition and enforcement of the victim’s protection order across the nation.
  • Sentencing, conviction, and prosecution rates are increased.
  • Increasing awareness about the realities of domestic violence among police officers and judges.

Immigrants and domestic violence

Everyone in the USA, notwithstanding their citizenship or immigration status, have special rights under criminal and civil law. These laws will provide you with:

  • Legal protection for you and your children.
  • The right to get divorced or separated without needing your spouse’s consent.
  • The right to share some marital property.
  • The right to request financial support and the custody of your child.

Consult a VAWA lawyer Miami who has experience with vawa immigration law. An immigration lawyer will know which family law options may apply to your current circumstances. At Gallardo Law Firm we have the experience and knowledge required to effectively handle your case.

Eligibility for VAWA petition

The VAWA petition allows some children, parents, and spouses of U.S. citizens to file a petition for themselves, without having to report to the abuser. These provisions are available for both men and women. Those eligible to file are:

  • Spouse: You can either file for yourself if you are the abused spouse of a citizen or if your child has been abused by a U.S citizen. Unmarried children under 21 years of age can be included.
  • Parent: If you are the parent of a U.S. citizen and you have been abused by your US citizen children, you are eligible to file.
  • Child: You can file for yourself if you are an unmarried abused child under 21 years of age who has been abused by a U.S.A citizen.

Get informed about VAWA requirements

There are a few VAWA requirements for petitioners, which include:

  • Spouse Requirements: You are married to a United States citizen abuser or permanent resident, your marriage to the abuser was terminated by divorce or by death, your spouse lost permanent residence or citizenship caused by a domestic violence incident prior to filing the petition, you believed you were married but you were not due to the abusive spouse. You or your child has suffered extreme cruelty from your spouse, your marriage was done in good faith, you resided with your spouse, and you are an individual with good moral character.
  • Children Eligibility Requirements: There needs to be an applicable parent/child relationship, which means you are the child of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you underwent extreme cruelty by the United States citizen, you resided with the abusive parent, and you are a person of good moral character.
  • Parent Requirements: There needs to be a qualifying parent or daughter relationship. That is, you are the parent of a United States citizen son or daughter who is at least 21 years old, the parent of a citizen son or daughter who renounced or lost citizenship status, you are the parent of a citizen who died during 2 years prior to filing the petition. You suffered extreme cruelty or battery by a United States citizen son or daughter, resided with an abusive child, and you are a person of good moral character.

The violence against women act: Application Process

The filing process for VAWA is simple and it only requires a few steps. You don’t have to rely on your abusive spouse or parent in order to apply. The first step is filling out Form I-360, Widow(er), Petition for Amerasian, or Special Immigrant. For applicants living abroad, they have to file I-360 if the abuser is a U.S. government employee, member of the uniformed services, or subjected to extreme cruelty or battery in the US. After USCIS receives the I-360 petition, the contact person on the form will receive a receipt of notice. The petition will be reviewed to see if everything stated is true and whether it can be approved. After the I-360 is approved you can start preparing your application to adjust your status.

Green card through vawa

This is Form I-485. If the person that abused you is a United States citizen, you can apply as soon as the I-360 has been approved. However, if the abuser is only a permanent resident, then you will have to wait for the visa to become available in order to apply for the green card.

Immigration lawyers providing help for domestic violence victims

In these types of cases Immigration lawyers are more qualified to assist than consultants. Attorneys have the required education, training, and experience to represent clients on these matters. Representatives can only provide you with limited assistance.

Although you can undertake filing on your own, the immigration law has evolved a lot. If you don’t get the application right the first time, you may have to wait a lot and the application may result in denial. It’s important to avoid mistakes because in the long run it may cost you more than the attorney’s fees.

Important things to consider in a VAWA case

The requirements for a VAWA case can vary depending on the circumstances surrounding the case you are dealing with. VAWA works for parents or children who have been abused by a permanent resident or a United States citizen. VAWA also works for children or spouses of Cuban Adjustment, NACARA, and HRIFA. In the ‘marriage-based’ VAWA the self-petitioning spouse will have to prove:

  • The abusive spouse is currently or was on the past, a green card holder or United States citizen.
  • The abusive spouse is a US citizen or permanent resident who was legally married to the person applying for VAWA.
  • The individual applying for VAWA lived with the abuser.
  • The permanent resident or US citizen spouse abused the individual applying for VAWA during the marriage.
  • The marriage was for good reasons ‘bona fide’ and not in order to obtain immigration benefits.
  • The VAWA applicant is of good moral character.
VAWA also protects men

“Violence against women act” also protects men

Although the law includes the word ‘women’ in it, abused men can also apply for relief under VAWA as long as the eligibility requirements are met. Violence should be dealt with no matter what the gender of the victim is. The bill is gender-neutral and it doesn’t assume guilt against male offenders.

When is a VAWA petition denied?

There can be a number of reasons why VAWA can be denied. Oftentimes this happens due to not submitting the required documentation with the USCIS. Some others reasons may be fraud, inadmissibility issues and adjustment bars including drugs, prostitution, etc. Some other cases may be denied due to insufficient prove of US citizenship or LPR status of the abuser when they have dug deeper into the case. But most of all, denials are caused by the district office wanting “re-adjudicate” the claim.

Deportation and VAWA cancellation of removal

If you are currently in removal proceedings and you have been a victim of domestic abuse, you may be eligible to apply for relief from removal by filling out the VAWA cancellation of removal application. This provides a good deportation defense to victims of domestic violence who are in removal proceedings. A VAWA lawyer in Miami can help you get approved and assist you with VAWA cancellation of removal.

Gallardo Law Firm is committed to defend immigrant rights in Miami

Gallardo lawyers have helped countless individuals with their immigration matters. We can help you find peace of mind and stabilize your situation. An immigration attorney can discuss how any of these legal options may either affect or assist you. Sadly, immigrants are particularly vulnerable when it comes to domestic violence since many of them don’t speak English and can’t defend themselves. At Gallardo Law Firm all our attorneys are fluent in both English and Spanish and have plenty of experience handling cases like yours in Miami. You don’t have to remain in an abusive relationship. Contact us today.


Visa Waiver Program

Common Questions and Answers about the VAWA non immigrant visa

A fee waiver can be requested for the I-485 and the I-765. The I-360 doesn’t require a fee waiver since it has no fee. The request for the fee waiver is made on Form I-912. USCIS generally grants a fee waiver to applicants who:
  • Receive a means-tested benefit.
  • Have a low income, about 150% below poverty guidelines.
  • They are able to demonstrate financial hardship.
Sadly, there aren’t resources to provide translators. This is why is wise hiring a bilingual attorney who can translate or handle important documents for you. You can also have you own translator but he or she cannot be a family member. If all of these fail, try to find volunteer interpreters who would like to help.
Yes, this is required except when the forms are written in both English and a foreign language. For instance, some passports may have all the information printed in English and in the Country’s official language.
It’s highly recommended to notarize them but it’s not required as long as the letters are signed by the person who wrote them.
If you can’t prove that your marriage with the abuser was entered in good faith, you will not be granted a green card with the VAWA self-petition. In other words, your intention was not to take advantage of U.S. immigration laws. However, you may qualify for a U visa if you have suffered severe injuries and have useful information to provide to the authorities. In this case, you will not be asked questions about your marriage but immigration fraud will count when going over your U visa petition.
You should definitely provide helpful information to the law enforcement official. This helps you qualify to submit a Certification of Helpfulness in order to assist law enforcement with deciding if you are helpful to them and whether or not they will grant you the certification. The more details provided the more evidence about the crime. This helps investigate and prosecute those who victimize you. However, this certification falls under the U visa category.
You must show good moral character in order for your VAWA to be approved. Regardless of the visa you apply for, you will have to submit sufficient evidence to qualify. It’s advisable to seek the legal counsel of an immigration attorney before you apply.
VAWA self-petitions don’t have restrictions, unlike the U visas where the law has limited the number of visas given to 10,000 per year. This means the applicants may have to wait, which will ultimately hurt their eligibility.