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VAWA Petition

Permanent Residency for Victims of Domestic Violence

Immigration law, under the Immigration & Nationality Act “INA”, allows for a victim of domestic violence (a battered spouse, parent or child) to file for an adjustment of status to obtain a green card and become a permanent resident. This type of application is called a VAWA petition, which stands for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). In order to be eligible for a VAWA petition, you must meet certain criteria, which includes establishing that you are a spouse, child, or parent of a United States citizen or permanent resident. These victims of domestic violence are often referred to as “self-petitioners” because the law allows the victim to file a petition for themselves without the abuser’s knowledge. The goal behind this legislation is to protect victims of domestic violence by providing them safety and independence from their abusers, who are notified about the filing. Although VAWA stands for Violence Against Women Act, it actually applies equally to both women as well as men, and the grant of an application is permanent and does not require reauthorization. Getting approved for a VAWA petition can be complicated and confusing and an experienced immigration attorney can often be a vital resource to make sure everything is done correctly and the process goes smoothly. At the Law Offices of William A. Proetta our immigration attorneys represent clients who are victims of domestic violence and are seeking adjustment of status through a VAWA petition. We represent clients throughout New Jersey including Perth Amboy, New Brunswick, Jersey City, Woodbridge, Union City, and Elizabeth. To learn more about how we can help you or your family, contact our Edison office at (732) 450-8300 for a free consultation today.

How to File a VAWA Petition

VAWA allows battered immigrants to petition for legal status in the United States without relying on an abusive U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident family member to sponsor them. First, any victims of domestic violence, battery and extreme cruelty will have to file a Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant under Form I-360. If you meet all filing requirements, you will receive a Prima Facie Determination Notice, which is valid for 150 days can be presented to government agencies which provide public benefits to certain victims of domestic violence. If your Form I-360 is approved, you will not automatically receive legal immigration status in the United States, instead, you will most likely be placed in deferred action, which allows you to remain in the United States. Once you are approved under Form I-360 and have been placed in deferred action, you can then make an application to legally work in the United States by filing a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. Any children listed on your approved Form I-360, may also apply for work authorization under the Form I-765.

Once the Form I-360 is approved (while in deferred action), the VAWA petitioner can also then file for an Adjustment of Status under Form I-485 to become a lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder) without sponsorship. Moreover, it is important to note that almost any alien who is the victim of domestic violence can be eligible to make VAWA petition. USCIS will not deny your petition if you are currently out of status or unlawfully present in the United States. This can be the result of coming over on a visa which has expired or even entering the country illegally without being inspected and admitted at the border. In addition, the VAWA self-petitioner is not required to prove that their illegal entry into the United States had a substantial connection to the domestic violence, battery or extreme cruelty.

There are many governmental and private organizations which provide help and aid to victims of domestic violence. If you are looking for more information on help that is available you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TDD). The hotline provides victims with information about shelters, mental heath care, legal advice and other types of assistance, including information about filing for immigration status.

VAWA Petition for Abused Spouse VAWA Petition for Abused Child
Adjustment of Status (Green Card Holder) Unlawful Presence
VAWA Petition for Battered Parent U.S. Citizenship
Immigration Removal Hearing Detention & Removal from United States