Determined & Skilled Immigration Defense

VAWA Petition Attorney in San Jose and San Francisco

Immigration Relief for Battered Family Members

In general, a foreign spouse married to a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident must file an application for adjustment of status in order to obtain permanent residency, typically on the basis of an I-130 immigrant visa petition filed by the citizen or resident spouse. Failure to apply for permanent residency may subject the foreign spouse to deportation.

Shamefully, some U.S. citizens and permanent resident spouses use the power to file or not file the I-130 petition over the foreign spouse while mistreating them. In response to this abuse, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) to help a foreign spouse file independently in order to remain in the U.S. without having to stay with the Abuser Spouse.

If you are in this situation, it is important that you immediately find safety, even if it means calling 911, and then contact a San Jose immigration defense attorney to assist you with your petition.

What is the VAWA Petition?

This petition benefits you as the battered spouse and any children or stepchildren who have been battered or have witness spousal abuse or parents battered by an adult child. To file under VAWA, your batterer must be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident.

Your petition will be made to USCIS without the participation of your abuser. The USCIS is prohibited from notifying your abuser of the action. Upon approval, you will be granted permanent residency.

If your batterer is not a legal permanent resident, you may possibly seek relief through another action called a U visa.

What Abuses Qualify Immigrants for VAWA Protection?

In addition to physical abuse, USCIS recognizes "extreme cruelty," or nonviolent abuse used to control the victim. In addition to refusing the file Form I-751 jointly, these include:

  • Threats to report the victim to USCIS
  • Threats to divorce the victim, especially if divorce is taboo in the victim's culture or religion
  • Threats of physical harm to the victim or their loved ones
  • Invasion of personal privacy
  • Purposeful withholding of money or food
  • Forbidding contact between the victim and their family or friends
  • Barring the victim from access to transportation or important documents
  • Malicious destruction of personal property
  • Repeated, uncontrollable displays of anger, screaming, name-calling, or cruel insults

It is important to consult with an immigration attorney in order to help you prepare your evidence for your petition. Types of evidence needed to prove a need for a VAWA petition include:

  • A personal statement
  • Medical records indicating injuries
  • Psychological records indicating discussions about abuse
  • Affidavits from medical professionals working with the victim
  • Affidavits from friends, coworkers, and others involved with the victim
  • Police reports
  • Statements from domestic violence shelters
  • Photographs of injuries or damaged personal possessions
  • Copies of protection orders

VAWA Cancellation of Removal

If you have already been given the notice to appear at a removal hearing, it may be too late to file a petition if the Abuser Spouse is not a U.S. citizen and your immigrant visa preference category is not immediately available. However, you may request VAWA cancellation of removal at the removal hearing on the grounds that you have been abused and may obtain permanent residency through this means.

I-751 Battered Spouse or Child Waiver

A third method of requesting permanent residency under VAWA is the battered spouse or child waiver. A victim of domestic violence may request this waiver. Just like with any other method, the requirement of joint filing with your spouse would be waived if approved. Through this means you may obtain permanent resident status before your two-year conditional status expires.

If you have not yet received your temporary green card, you would not be able to file Form I-751, even with the battered spouse or child waiver. However, you can self-petition for a green card through Form I-360.

San Francisco and San Jose VAWA Petition Lawyer

Daniel Shanfield, Esq. Immigration Defense has helped many clients to obtain permanent residency through the VAWA. He has been recognized as a Northern California Immigration "Super Lawyer" by San Francisco Magazine and holds a 10/10 AVVO rating, ranking him as "Superb" in experience, industry recognition, professional conduct. Our firm is passionate about obtaining VAWA relief for clients.

Contact a VAWA petition attorney in San Jose and San Jose at our firm for a consultation.

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