Abused Spouse, Children and Parents
Understanding your rights as an immigrant is complicated and can be overwhelming and worrisome for anyone trying to enter the United States legally. Add domestic violence, or if you are being abused or imitated by a loved one and you can feel helpless to escape the abusive relationship and take control of your life. If you are a battered or abused spouse, child, or parent of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you may self-petition for an immigrant visa petition without the abuser’s knowledge. This allows immigrant victims to seek both safety and independence from their abuser, who will not be notified about the filing.
You may qualify for Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) benefits if you suffer from physical, psychological, or emotional abuse at the hands of your spouse, parent, or child (elder abuse).
What are some of the signs of abuse?
If you are an immigrant or refugee in an abusive relationship, you may face unique issues that make it hard to reach out for help. Here are some examples of psychological abuse that would qualify. We have seen abusive partners use the following tactics to abuse immigrant victims:
- Isolation: Trying to control and isolate you from any supportive environment (such as friends, co-workers, family, support groups, counselors, social activities) by trying to interfere in these relationships with his/her behavior.
- Threats: Threatening deportation or withdrawal of petitions for legal status.
- Intimidation and Blame: Project his/her own mistakes and problems on you, blaming you for his/her life and attempting to make you believe that the abuse is your fault, that you somehow did something wrong to deserve it. Abusers will try and rationalize the abuse and blame it on things that have nothing to do with him/her such as: stress, problems at work, financial difficulties, alcohol or the children but takes it out on you, hoping that you will let it continue as his/her outlet.
- Manipulation Regarding Citizenship or Residency: Withdrawing or not filing papers for residency; lying by threatening that the victim will lose their citizenship or residency if they report the violence. Destroying legal documents or papers needed in this country such as passports, resident cards, health insurance, or driver’s licenses.
- Economic Abuse: Getting the victim fired from their job or calling employers and falsely reporting that the victim is undocumented.
- Children: Threatening to hurt children or take them away if the police are contacted.
Proving the Abusive Relationship
The definition of “extreme cruelty” for immigration purposes and Violence Against Women Act protection does not require evidence of physical abuse to be eligible for a green card based on the abuse. We have won cases based only on psychological abuse or a combination of financial and psychological abuse. You need to prove the relationship and it is not necessary to have called the police or have a police report on file. This is a different process than those who have been victims of a crime or Trafficking which has a different standard of proof, read about U Visa here.
Who Can File an Immigrant Visa Petition?
Spouse: You may file if you are or were the abused wife or husband of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. You may also file as an abused spouse if your child has been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse. You can also include your unmarried children who are under 21 if they have not filed for themselves on your petition.
Parent: You may file if you are the parent of a U.S. citizen, and you have been abused, either physically or verbally by your U.S. citizen son or daughter.
Child: You may file for yourself if you are an abused child under 21, unmarried, and have been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent. Your children may also be included on your petition if you have any. You may also file for yourself as a child after age 21 but before age 25 if you can demonstrate that the abuse was the main reason for the delay in filing.
Can a man file an Immigrant Visa Petition?
Yes. We understand that it is very hard for many men to contact an attorney about their abusive spouse, because of the disgrace or humiliation that many men feel. Also, many men do not recognize that what is happening in their marriage is abusive, because it is the reverse of the usual story of a man abusing his wife. You are not alone; we have helped many men whose lives have been threatened by their wives. We have successfully represented men whose psychological abuse, threats of violence, or financial extortion has been so intense that it wasn’t emotionally or physically safe to stay in the abusive relationship.
Can I Get a Green Card?
Yes! Immigrants have a right to live free from abuse and have special immigration benefits.
What is the filing process?
We must applications in order for you to get your green card. Once your applications are filed, the Department of Homeland Security will perform a background check on you. You will be also be granted a work permit while we wait for your case to be processed. In the final stages of your case, we will prepare and accompany you to your interview with the Department of Homeland Security. Once your case is approved you will then receive your green card.
I entered the U.S. illegally, am I still eligible to obtain a green card as an abused spouse through VAWA?
Yes! USCIS announced a nationwide policy in April 2008 confirming that survivors who entered the U.S. illegally are still eligible for permanent residence (green card) and do not have to leave the U.S. to try to obtain a green card at a consulate abroad. We encourage you to call us to discuss your situation, to make sure you are still eligible, especially if you have had multiple illegal entries or have a complicated immigration past. We are here to listen. We are here to help if you need us.
Can A Divorced Spouse Qualify?
Yes. you qualify if the marriage was terminated within 2 years prior to the date of filing if the marriage was terminated because of the abuse. Usually, we prefer to file your application while you remain legally married but separated from your spouse.
We are here to help.
If you are in an abusive relationship, we understand it can be hard to reach out for help. We are a safe place and we respect all cultures, religions, sexual preferences and lifestyles. We do not discriminate against any person. Our mission is to provide both legal and emotional support to victims and their families who suffer abuse and help them live fulfilling lives in the United States. In fact, we have referred our clients to counselors and domestic violence shelters who can help them overcome the abuse while we handle the immigration case. Contact Solano Law Firm or call us today at (404) 835-2626 to book a free case evaluation appointment.