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VAWA Self-Petitions for Victims of Spousal Abuse; U and T Visas for Victims of Crime

Victims of Spousal Abuse or Crime

VAWA I-360 Self Petition

Immigrants are especially vulnerable to become victims of domestic violence. The abuser usually uses his status as a citizen or lawful permanent resident in order to intimidate, isolate, and control his spouse. He or she may, for example, threaten to report the victim to USCIS to have her deported, refuse to file for green card (Adjustment of Status) and work authorization or threaten to have her children taken away. He may isolate her from her family and friends, not allow her to learn English, hide important immigration-related documents from her such as a passport, or not allow her to get a job. The abuser may also use sexual, emotional, and physical abuse to control and degrade his victim, damaging her self-esteem and in turn, enforcing her dependence on him.

How Valentini Law Offices Can Benefit You: Our office atmosphere is peaceful, comfortable and strictly confidential, which makes it easy for our clients to tell their story.Over the years we have developed vast expertise in successfully representing both female and male immigrant survivors of domestic abuse in their pursuit of lawful permanent residency. In addition to routinely representing VAWA clients, our managing attorney has presented at seminars and conferences on immigration and domestic violence. We gather evidence and do the legal work with the utmost respect for our clients privacy and peace of mind.

Schedule a consultation with a VAWA Lawyer in New York
Valentini Law Offices, PLLC
Phone: (212) 213-8275
61 Broadway, Suite 2505, New York, NY 10006
By Appointment Only

Many immigrant victims of domestic violence are reluctant to come forward and end the abuse due to fears of deportation and/or of losing their children. There may be cultural reasons for this reluctance, as well as a general fear for safety. Fortunately, there are several forms of relief for these women.

I-360 VAWA Self-Petitions

Under the Violence Against Women Act aliens who are married or were married to abusive U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents (green card holders) may self-petition for Lawful Permanent Residency (green card) allowing them to stay in the United States and eventually become US citizens. Self petitions do not have to be signed or filed by a US citizen or lawful permanent resident.  The abuser would have no knowledge of the application; therefore, he would have no influence on the process.  You might  be eligible to file an I-360 VAWA self-petition if you:

1) resided with a US citizen or lawful permanent resident abuser

2) were battered or subjected to extreme cruelty

3) the marriage was entered in good faith

4) have good moral character.

VAWA Lawyer Answers FAQs

Am I eligible to file a VAWA self-petition if I have no police or hospital reports or restraining orders (orders of protection)?

Yes. For a variety of reasons, many successful VAWA self-petitioners have never sought police, medical or court assistance in dealing with physical and emotional abuse. If your evidence of abuse is very limited and you would like us to evaluate it, please contact VAWA Attorney.

I’ve only lived with my abusive US citizen spouse for about two weeks. Is there a chance that my VAWA self-petition will be approved?

We are proud to report that we were able to get I-360s approved even if joint residence with an abuser lasted a very short period of time. However, you have to be prepared that USCIS will heavily scrutinize your I-360 self- petition to see if you have met a joint residence requirement. These days, a requirement of joint residence with an abuser is not only being investigated in very detailed RFEs, it is becoming the most common criteria for VAWA self-petitions to be denied.

I divorced my abusive United States citizen spouse three years ago. Can I still file a VAWA self-petition?

Unfortunately, no. You only have two years from the date that your divorce becomes final to file an I-360 VAWA self-petition.

Once I file an I-360 VAWA application, would I be allowed to work in the US?

Filing an I-360 does not grant you an automatic permission to work in the US.  To be eligible to work in the US, you’ll need to file an application for employment authorization concurrently with your I-360.  Once your employment authorization is approved, you are good to start working.

I entered the US without a visa and was not inspected at the border. I think I am considered an EWI (entered without inspection) alien.  Would I be eligible to get my green card through VAWA if I entered the US without inspection?

Yes, an approved I-360 application will waive your inadmissibility based on entry without inspection (EWI).

Is there any way for my abuser to find out that I filed an I-360 VAWA application?

Absolutely not.  All VAWA application are strictly confidential and are being processed by a special USCIS VAWA Unit.

Would I at any point in my I-360 VAWA application process be required to press criminal charges against my abuser?

No, you would not be required to press charges.

I couldn’t take the abuse anymore, so I went back to my home country.  Can I still file an I-360 VAWA application from overseas?

Absolutely. If you meet all of the requirements above and your I-360 is approved, you’ll be interviewed at a US consulate in your home country and, if you are admissible, granted lawful permanent residency in the US (green card).

I am male and was abused by my US citizen wife.  Can I file a VAWA application?  Do such types of VAWA application ever get approved?

Yes to both! We are proud to report that we’ve successfully represented many male survivors of domestic violence.

It might be the case that my US citizen husband never filed taxes.  At least when I asked him why we don’t file like everybody else on  April 15, he said it’s not my business. Am I still eligible for VAWA if my husband and I never filed taxes?

Yes, you are eligible to file I-360 VAWA and I-485 concurrent applications even if you and your husband never filed your tax returns with IRS.  As opposed to marriage-based and other types of I-485s, VAWA-based I-485s do not require an affidavit of support.

If my I-360 VAWA self-petition and concurrent I-485 get approved, would I get a conditional green card since I’ve only been married to my US citizen husband for a few months?

You would get a 10 year permanent green card. In marriage-based I-485s, if a marriage is less than 2 years old on the day of Adjustment of Status interview, a beneficiary would get a conditional green card valid for two years. However, in VAWA-based I-485s, regardless of the length of a marriage, a successful self petitioner is eligible for a 10 year permanent green card.

I am considering filing an I-360 VAWA self-petition.  I’ve done some online research and it looks like it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get a VAWA petition approved these days.  Is that true?

Unfortunately, yes.  Recently, we’ve noticed that Vermont Service Center (VSC) started to pay a lot more attention to the requirements of good faith marriage and joint residence. These two requirements are not only being investigated in very detailed RFEs, they are becoming the most common criteria for VAWA petitions to be denied.

I am in removal (deportation) proceedings and my Immigration Court hearing is coming up soon. Is it too late to file for an I-360 VAWA self-petition?

No, it is definitely not too late! If you are in removal (deportation) proceedings, and you are being abused or were abused by your US citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or parent (or you have a child with the US citizen or lawful permanent resident who is abused by him/her), you might be eligible to apply for VAWA cancellation of removal. If an application for VAWA cancellation of removal is granted, the removal process will be cancelled and you will receive legal permanent residence (green card). Keep in mind that VAWA cancellation of removal cases are very complex and you it will be in your best interest to consult an experienced VAWA attorney before your first Immigration Court hearing.

I am a 19 year old male from NY.  I live with my abusive father.  My mom passed away a year ago.  My mom’s family wants me to live with them in NJ, but my father is threatening to report them to Immigration because they do not have papers. My father says his papers are in order, but I don’t know if he is a US citizen or green card holder. Can I apply for VAWA ?

If your father is neither a US citizen, nor a green card holder, you are not eligible to file a VAWA self-petition.  Good news is that you still are eligible for a U visa (see below).  If your father is in fact a US citizen or a green card holder (lawful permanent resident) you could go ahead and file an I-360 VAWA self-petition. Remember that you need to have you application filed with USCIS before you turn 21!  Additionally, it looks like you might be eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.

I recently got married to my same sex partner, but things are not going well. I think I am being abused.  Am I eligible to file a VAWA self-petition?

Unfortunately no, since same sex marriages are not recognized under US federal law.  However, you might be eligible for a U visa (see below).

Victims of Crime

U Visas

U visa is an immigrant visa that was established to encourage aliens to report crime and cooperate with law enforcement officials. U visa is potentially available to victims of torture, trafficking, rape, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, prostitution, domestic violence, involuntary servitude, slave trade, kidnapping, unlawful criminal restraint, abduction, false imprisonment, felonious assault, manslaughter, murder, blackmail, extortion, obstruction of justice, perjury, witness tampering and other crimes. It is required that the victims of the above mentioned crimes have been or are being cooperative with law enforcement officials, judges and prosecutors. Law enforcement certification is necessary to qualify for a U visa.

T Visas

T visas are available for alien victims of severe forms of human trafficking, sex trade or forced labor, who are in the United States. Upon a showing that the victim is likely to face extreme hardship and suffering upon return to the country of origin, and upon cooperation with law enforcement officials in the investigation or prosecution of the traffickers, successful applicants will receive temporary residence for three years and may subsequently apply for permanent residency.

Announcements

On November 20, 2014 President Obama announced new executive order expanding 2012 Deferred Action initiative (DACA). New executive order establishes eligibility for work permits for DACA family members and expands DACA eligibility. For more info contact us at your earliest convenience!