The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a United States federal law that provided funds toward the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, imposed automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted, and allowed civil redress in unprosecuted cases. In addition, the Act formed the Office on Violence Against Women within the Department of Justice. Unfortunately, many undocumented immigrant women are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. These crimes can take place in their home countries or when they try to enter the United States. However, there are forms of relief available.
Immigrant women can be the victims of domestic violence when they enter the country, while working, and even within their own homes. Female immigrants who are victims of abuse often fail to report such crimes for fear of deportation. Fortunately, federal immigration law provides relief in several forms of protection for immigrant women.
U visas are available for victims of certain crimes, while victims of domestic violence may petition for relief under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). U visas and VAWA petitions can be complicated, and it is important to understand the qualifications for them.
Victims of domestic violence can be abused spouses, children, and parents, and they may petition for immigration relief under VAWA. To qualify for help, a person must show good moral character and have a U.S. Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) relative who has committed the abuse. For a battered spouse, the victim must have entered into the marriage in good faith and lived with his or her spouse for a period of time. If the petitioner is divorced, he or she must show that the divorce was a result of the abuse suffered. If an individual is living with a boyfriend or girlfriend but are not married and/or the abuser is not a U.S. Citizen or LPR, the immigrant cannot seek VAWA relief.
According to VAWA, immigrants who are victims of domestic abuse (including child abuse and elder abuse) may “self-petition” for LPR status. They do not need the assistance of an abusive family member. This allows the victim to file the self-petition and obtain LPR status without separating from the abuser, thus permitting the victim to flee the abuser once he or she has obtained LPR status.
The following individuals are eligible for VAWA self-petitions:
An immigrant who is petitioning for relief must provide evidence of abuse in addition to meeting the below conditions:
Domestic violence can happen to people of all ages and nationalities throughout the world, even those who are hoping to enter the United States from another country. At Mevorah Law Office, LLC, we understand how some immigrants might be hesitant to report abuse in fear of jeopardizing their immigration status. If you or a loved one is a victim of domestic violence with hopes of becoming a United States citizen, our skilled Illinois immigration attorneys can assist you in securing a safe future here. Call our office today at 630-932-9100 to schedule a free consultation.
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