If you are in an abusive marriage, you may be able to petition yourself, without depending on your abusive spouse. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) allows men and women to apply for a benefit if they have been abused physically or emotionally by their spouses. The general requirements for relief under VAWA are:
Qualifying spousal relationship:
- you are married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident abuser or
- your marriage to the abuser was terminated by death or a divorce (related to the abuse) within the 2 years prior to filing your petition, or
- your spouse lost or renounced citizenship or permanent resident status within the 2 years prior to filing your petition due to an incident of domestic violence, or
- you believed that you were legally married to your abusive U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse but the marriage was not legitimate solely because of the bigamy of your abusive spouse.
- You have suffered battery/extreme cruelty by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse:
- you have been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, or
- your child has been subjected to battery or extreme cruelty by your U.S. or permanent resident spouse.
- You entered into the marriage in good faith, not solely for immigration benefits.
- You have resided with your spouse.
- You are a person of good moral character.
If your self-petition is approved, you may be able to apply for a green card. Immigration is sensitive to domestic violence and allows you to file your self-petition with a safe address, if you are still living with your abusive spouse. If you are or have suffered physical or emotional abuse, it is recommended you seek the advice of a experienced immigration attorney. The attorneys of Dorsett & Zapata, PLLC have experience filing petitions under VAWA and the subsequent green card application. Contact us now for your free consultation.