The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) provides powerful protection for the victims of domestic violence or abuse. Thankfully, these protections extend to immigrants that face abuse from citizens of the United States.
One of the unique challenges facing immigrants that are also victims of domestic abuse is the fact that their marital status impacts their residency. Each year, countless men and women remain in abusive relationships that provide their only means of staying within the United States. The VAWA gives another option to people in this situation. For an explanation of immigration and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in Aurora, reach out to a knowledgeable attorney today.
Immigrants that are victims of domestic abuse are faced with a difficult situation. Abusive spouses of immigrants have leverage due to their citizenship status, making it much more difficult for a victim to leave a relationship when they choose. The good news is that VAWA allows victims to avoid the requirement of cooperation with an abusive spouse through a process known as a “self-petition.”
Generally, a foreign resident seeking lawful permanent residency must be sponsored, often by his or her spouse. Under VAWA, it is possible for the victim of domestic violence to file their own petition for lawful permanent residence without the cooperation of their abuser. In fact, this option is available for divorced individuals as long as the marriage ended within the last two years.
Self-petitions are not available to everyone. A petitioner must be a spouse or former spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. Alternatively, a child of abusive lawful residents or citizens may self-petition prior to turning 25. The parents of children that were abused by a lawful permanent resident or citizen spouse also qualify.
In addition to providing immigrants a path to residency that does not require the help of an abusive spouse, VAWA also offers tools to fight back against deportation and removal proceedings. These options are available to immigrants facing removal that are victims of abuse at the hands of either lawful permanent residents or U.S. citizens. The abusers could be either spouses or parents that the victim relies on in order to maintain their immigration status.
There are steep requirements when it comes to using VAWA protections to cancel removal during the deportation process. The applicant must be able to show they suffered abuse or were victims of extreme cruelty. In addition to evidence of abuse, he or she must also demonstrate good moral character and prove that removal from the country would lead to extreme hardship. Finally, there is a physical presence requirement. A person must have remained physically present in the country for at least three years in order to take advantage of VAWA protections.
These guidelines are fairly restrictive, and any deviation from them could result in a denied application for cancellation of removal. Working with an experienced VAWA attorney in the area could reduce the risk of a denial.
While there are helpful options for the victims of domestic violence under VAWA, pursuing these options is rarely easy. The requirements for self-petitioning or canceling removal proceedings are steep. Let a skilled attorney advise you on your options regarding immigration and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in Aurora. Give us a call today to learn more.