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VAWA- How to get a Green Card without the help of your US citizen/ Permanent resident spouse

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VAWA- Violence Against Women Act is a special law which allows the spouse and/or child of an abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident to apply for a green card by self-petition. Through VAWA, a person, Man or Woman, can apply for their green card without the help of their abusive spouse.


VAWA REQUIREMENTS


1.      What is VAWA?

2.      Benefits of VAWA

3.      Who is eligible to apply for VAWA?

4.      VAWA Requirements

5.      VAWA Process

6. Adjustment of status

7.      Required Documents for VAWA

8.      VAWA Fees

9.      VAWA Processing Time

10.    Conclusion



1.      What is VAWA


The Violence Against Women Act is a law which gives certain people the right to self-petition for a green card if certain conditions are met. As a general overview, to qualify, you must be the abused spouse, parent or child of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.


2.      Benefits of VAWA


i.                    Ability to Self-Petition

Under normal circumstances, if you are applying for a green card based on marriage to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, your spouse (the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident) must act as the petitioner for your immigrant petition. This means that the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident must agree to file your immigration paperwork. They must sign the immigrant petition and act as the “petitioner” for your case.

The problem with this system is that if the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse is abusive, they could use the U.S. immigration system to control the abused spouse. For example, they could threaten to withdraw an immigrant petition if the victim reported the abuse to authorities and more.

The main benefit of VAWA is that it allows the abused spouse parent or child to self-petition for their green card. This means that they can file the petition on their own behalf. They do not have to rely on their abusive spouse to file their immigrant petition.

ii.                  VAWA and Children

Another benefit of VAWA is that it allows you to include your children as derivative beneficiaries of your VAWA petition. What this means is that, if you are eligible to apply for your green card through VAWA, you may also be eligible to apply for green cards for your children. Your children do not need to be related to the abuser to qualify. In order for your child to qualify as your derivative beneficiary, they must be unmarried and under 21 years old at the time the VAWA petition is filed.


3.      Who is Eligible to Apply for VAWA?

There are 5 categories of people who may apply for VAWA:

i.        Abused spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.

ii.      Spouse of U.S. citizen of lawful permanent resident whose child has been abused by the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse.

iii.    Abused child of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.

iv.    Abused parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who qualifies as an “immediate relative”


4.      VAWA REQUIREMENTS


i.                    Marriage to a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident

ii.                  Intended Marriages

iii.                Termination of Marriage

iv.                Parent- Child relationship

v.                  Parent of abusive U.S. Citizen or Permanent resident

vi.                Residence requirement

vii.               Citizenship status of Abuser

viii.             Must have suffered Abuse

ix.                 Good moral Character

x.                  Application and supporting evidence



i.                     Marriage to a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident

To qualify for VAWA as the abused spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, you must show that you entered into a “good-faith marriage” with the U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

What this means is that, at the time of the marriage, you must have intended to establish a life together with the U.S. citizen spouse. If the marriage was entered into just for immigration benefits, then it is not a “good-faith marriage”.

NOTE-

ii.                  Intended Marriages

Intended marriages can still satisfy the marriage requirement. An intended marriage for purposes of VAWA is when the abused spouse and the U.S citizen or lawful permanent resident get married in “good faith”, but the marriage is not legitimate because the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident is still married to someone else.

iii.                Termination of Marriage

In certain cases, you can apply for VAWA even if you are no longer married to the abusive spouse. In order to qualify, you must have been in a bona-fide marriage with the abusive spouse. In addition, the marriage must have terminated within the last 2 years. Also, the termination of the marriage must be connected to the battery or extreme cruelty of the abusive spouse.

iv.                Parent- Child relationship

To qualify for VAWA as the abused child of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, you must show that you have a parent-child relationship with the abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.

v.                  Parent of abusive U.S. Citizen or Permanent resident

To qualify for VAWA as the abused parent of a U.S. citizen, you must show that you are the parent of the abusive U.S. citizen. You must also show that you are eligible to be classified as the immediate relative of the abusive U.S. citizen. This means that the abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident must be at least 21 years old.

vi.                Residence requirement

There are 2 prongs to the residence requirement

a.      To qualify for VAWA, you must reside in the United States at the time the VAWA petition is filed. If you do not reside in the U.S. at the time the VAWA petition is filled, you must be able to show that the abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident is an employee of the U.S. government or member of the uniformed services or that the abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident subjected you or your child to extreme cruelty or battery in the United States.

b.      To qualify for VAWA, you must have resided with the abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident at some point. You do not need to currently reside with the abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. Also, your residence with the abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent residence does not need to have been in the United States.

vii.               Citizenship status of Abuser

To qualify for VAWA, the abusive spouse must either be U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. If the abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident is no longer a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, you may potentially still qualify for VAWA if you file the VAWA petition within 2 years of the abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident loss of status if their loss of status was related to an instance of domestic violence.

viii.             Must have suffered Abuse

In order to qualify for VAWA you must have suffered abuse at the hands of the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or parent. In cases where the VAWA petitioner is a parent of an abusive U.S. citizen child, you must show that you suffered abuse at the hands of the U.S. citizen child.

To demonstrate that you have been abused, you must show that you have been battered or that you were the subject of extreme cruelty.

Abuse is also defined by the regulations to be any act or threatened act of violence and also includes psychological abuse, rape, incest and forced prostitution.

ix.                 Good moral Character

To qualify for VAWA, you must be able to demonstrate that you are and were a person of good moral character for a period of three years preceding the filing of the VAWA petition.

Documents like Police clearances, tax returns, and/or affidavits from people who know you, to demonstrate that you satisfy the good moral character requirement.

ii.                  Application and supporting evidence

You will need to file a form I-360 and submit supporting evidence.


5.      VAWA PROCESS


i.                    The first step in the process is to consult with an experienced immigration lawyer. Your immigration lawyer will be able to help you determine whether VAWA is the best option for you. After discussing with an immigration lawyer, you may determine that there is a better option for you based on your circumstances. Call ADESINA LAW FIRM, PC for a free consultation! Ph: 3123639661


ii.                  Form I-360

After you’ve consulted with an immigration lawyer, the next step in the VAWA process is that you must file a Form I-360 with USCIS. The Form I-360 is the Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant.

The Form I-360 is the application that is filed with USCIS to apply for VAWA and submit all the documents that support your case along with the Form I-360.


6.      ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS

In many cases, you may be eligible to file an adjustment of status (Form I-485) along with your Form I-360. The Form I-485 is the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. This is the application used to “adjust status” to go from whatever status you currently hold, to lawful permanent resident status. To discuss that specifics of your case and determine whether you are eligible to file your adjustment of status, call us at ADESINA LAW FIRM, PC 312.363.9661 OR Email us at Bayolaw@gmail.com


7.      REQUIRED DOCUMENTS FOR VAWA

There are many documents that should go into your VAWA application package. The documents should be used to prove that each of the VAWA requirements are satisfied. When it comes to the documents you should include in a VAWA application, it is important to know that some documents are much more credible than other types of documents.

-         Primary evidence: Legal I. Ds, police reports, hospital records, court records, financial records etc.

-         Secondary evidence: Affidavits from witnesses etc.

The documents that should be included in you VAWA application will depend on the specific details of your case. Here is a general list of documents that may be included in your petition.

-         Cover Letter: the cover letter will explain the entire application, the basis for applying for VAWA the documents that are included in the application, etc. The cover letter is usually prepared by your attorney if you are working with an attorney.

-         Form I-360: As mentioned earlier in this guide, the Form I-360 is the form used to apply for VAWA

-         Applicant’s Affidavit: Your declaration is one of the most important pieces of evidence in your VAWA application. This declaration should explain in detail how each of the elements of a VAWA claim are satisfied. You should work with an experience immigration lawyer to make sure that your declaration covers all the points that should be covered.

-         Marriage Certificate: This will be used to prove that you were married to the abusive spouse.

-         Birth Certificate: This may be used to prove that you are the child or parent of the abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.

-         Lease Agreement or Deed to Property: This may potentially be used to demonstrate that you resided with that abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. This can also be used to show that you were in a good-faith marriage with your abusive spouse (if applicable).

-         Copy of Birth Certificate, Passport, or Green Card of Abusive U.S. Citizen or Lawful

Permanent Resident: This will be used to prove that the abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident is, in fact, a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.

-         I-94 Arrival and Department Record: This may help to establish your physical presence in the U.S. at the time of the abuse and may also help to establish your current physical presence in the U.S.

-         Medical Records: This may be helpful to show abusive conduct by abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.

-         Police Reports: This may be helpful to show abusive conduct by abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.

-         Photographs of Injuries: This may be helpful to show abusive conduct by abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.

-         Reports from Psychologists: This may be helpful to show abusive conduct by abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.

-         Signed Affidavits from Friends and Family: These may be helpful in multiple ways. The signed statements can help to show that you have a good moral character, that there was a real good-faith marriage (if applicable), and that the abuse took place.

-         Joint Bank Statements: These can help to show that you were in a real good-faith marriage with your abusive spouse (if applicable)

-         Pictures of You and Your Spouse: Pictures of you and your abusive spouse together, traveling together, at your wedding ceremony, etc. can be helpful to establish that there was a valid good-faith marriage )if applicable).

-         Utility Bills Addressed to You and Your Spouse: May be helpful to show a real good-faith marriage (if applicable).

-         Police Clearance Letters: These are required to show good moral character. If you are 14years of age or older, you must include police clearance letter from every jurisdiction you resided in for at least 6 months (for the 3-year period prior to filing your VAWA application).


8.      VAWA FEES


VAWA fees: None

Form I-360 Filing Fee

VAWA applicants are exempt from paying the I-360 filing fee. Please make sure to check the correct filing fee prior to filing your application. You may check the USCIS website here for more information. uscis.gov


Form I-485 Fee

At the time that this guide is being published, for applicants from age 14-79, the Form I-485(adjustment of status) filing fee is $1,225 (which includes the biometrics fee of $85). Applicants in different age groups are subject to different fees. Please make sure to check the appropriate fee prior to filing your application.


Immigration Lawyer Legal Fee

If you choose to work with an immigration lawyer, they will likely charge a legal fee for their services. The fee that your immigration lawyer will charge will depend on many factors such as their level of experience, billing practices. etc.


9.      VAWA PROCESSING TIME

VAWA cases are processed at the Vermont Service Center. The current processing time at the time this article is being published is 18 to 24 months. To check current processing times, you may with to check the USCIS website. www.uscis.gov



10.  CONCLUSION

You should now have a much better understanding of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). To quickly recap, VAWA is a special law which allows the spouse and/or child of an abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident to apply for a green card by self-petition. Through VAWA, someone can apply for their green card without the help of their abusive spouse, parent, or child.

If you have any questions about VAWA, please feel free to contact us directly at 312-363-9661 or at Bayolaw@gmail.com. Good luck!

13 Saved
29 Comments
Wumi· Dec 01, 00:46
Thank so much for dc .. I ll get in touch with u.
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1 Like
Adebayo· Dec 01, 09:34
You're welcome!
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Anu· Dec 01, 01:56
Awesome!!!! Some lawyers would want to get paid for this, they see it as info but i state it to be clarification.
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Adebayo· Dec 01, 09:35
Thanks!
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Fatmata· Dec 01, 03:00
what do it really mean?! Why two people from same country get FX1 and the other gets F21? Please help me.
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Adebayo· Dec 02, 12:42
FX1 - Spouse of a lawful permanent resident alien (Exempt from country limitation) and FX21 is Spouse of a lawful permanent resident alien (Subject to country limitation) Country limitation has something to do with the volume of immigrants coming from the specific country. My guess is one applied after they reached the limit for the country.
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Fatmata· Dec 03, 12:08

Adebayo thank you so much.

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Adebayo· Dec 03, 12:19

Fatmata You're welcome!

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Dozie · Dec 01, 19:04
👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾
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Ajoke· Dec 02, 08:03
This one is good but also weird must have your spouse who refused to file for you involuntarily beat the crap out of one then especially if one doesn’t have a child born here then accuses him/ her of abuse. Would a lawyer be needed for the divorce afterwards? If not before the filling is finalized 😂..Am sorry just thinking of how the whole thing would play out and if it’s a good thing because most women people continues relationship with their abusers..
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Adebayo· Dec 02, 11:34
Yeah, but remember that VAWA is available to male immigrants and there is usually no physical violence involved when men file for VAWA. The fact that the U.S. citizen spouse is refusing to file for the immigrant's Green card and is using the refusal to file as a means to control the immigrant physically, emotionally or financially can be highlighted on your VAWA application; Although domestic violence is primary evidence of abuse, there is no need for physical violence to prevail in VAWA?
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Ajoke· Dec 02, 15:02
Okey that makes sense too not necessarily physical violence. I think that’s better if there is enough evidence to back it upon too thanks bro lol
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Adebayo· Dec 02, 16:46

Ajoke You're welcome!

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Bro Ugo· Dec 03, 02:13
Waoh. Thank you so much. I will call u sir
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Irene· Dec 03, 22:47
Thank you so much Mr.Adesina for your prompt response and for being very informative and helpful.
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Adebayo· Dec 03, 22:55
You're welcome!
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H
Homeis· Dec 08, 14:54
Can I divorce my spouse and still file vawa? Question for a friend and do you also do divorce as well...referring
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Adebayo· Dec 08, 15:03

Yes, if you file for VAWA within 2 years of the divorce. Yes, please call us at [[Sign In to see link]].

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Fiza· Dec 11, 12:46
What if there is no abuse at all but spouse no longer wants to be with the petitioner? The spouse instead alleged abuse to get his/her papers filed..cuz I’ve seen many cases, where some people come here and they don’t want the petitioner but they want the papers
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Adebayo· Dec 11, 13:30
Yeah, Vawa is Ultimately evidence and testimony based. Some immigrant spouses have successfully change their status under Vawa if their story is straight.
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Fiza· Dec 11, 13:32

Adebayo ok so what if the spouse no longer wants to be with the petitioner, but still wants the papers? Please advice, advocating for the petitioner

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Bro Ugo· Dec 11, 22:25

Fiza he has answered you. I think this quedtion is not relevant

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Fiza· Dec 11, 22:40

Bro Ugo how about we let him answer that question

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Bro Ugo· Dec 11, 22:44

Fiza ok . I appologies. He will answer though he skipped it .

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Anu· Dec 12, 19:13

Fiza I also filed through VAWA, you need to have a violence related evidence, either physically, mentally or emotionally. That’s why it’s termed as “ Violence against women act. It’s a long process becos you will need to visit a VAWA councilor who who will prepare a report indicating your story. It’s just like asyllum, you need to have a genuine reason why you are seeking for it. Incase otherwise, u can divorce the partner then proceed to remarry. Read more about VAWA, u will understand better.

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Adebayo· Dec 14, 15:55

Fiza Vawa involves physical, emotional or psychological abuse. The abused may choose to stay with the abuser for whatever reason. It is suspicious for the abused to intend to stay and as such, the abused spouse must have a compelling reason for that to get through the Vawa interview. i.e. The overall Vawa story must add up. Call us to discuss further at [[Sign In to see link]]

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Fiza· Dec 14, 16:34

Anu Thank you so much

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Uloma· Dec 23, 19:07
What does it mean to have a prima facie approval for a vawa petition?
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Bro Ugo· Dec 26, 11:08
Acceptance of your pettition pending review
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