If you’re a non-citizen stuck in an abusive relationship with a lawful permanent resident or U.S. citizen, you may be able to apply for a green card on your own, without the knowledge of your abuser, with the help of a specialty immigration lawyer.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which was originally signed into law in 1994 by President Clinton, allows for victims of domestic violence to self-petition for permanent residency. Our Boston VAWA lawyers believe in upholding our clients’ rights under the act, helping them remain in the U.S. while finding relief from abusive relationships.
Please note: If you’re in real and immediate danger, call 911. You can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
When a non-citizen is in an abusive relationship with a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, this can create a dangerous cycle where the abusive spouse uses the victim’s status as a nonimmigrant against him or her. The abusive spouse may threaten to call immigration or have their spouse deported if they try to leave the relationship. The abusive spouse may refuse to file a marriage-based green card application in an attempt to keep their spouse in the relationship and under their influence. Without a green card, the abused spouse may feel that they have no option but to stay with their abuser.
VAWA takes away the abuser’s power, allowing the abused spouse to self-petition for permanent residency. An application can also be filed for unmarried children under the age of 21.
Applying for a green card under VAWA can be complex and involves specific requirements to be eligible. That is why we recommend working with an attorney who can advise and guide you through the process.
To self-petition for adjustment of status under VAWA:
VAWA does not only apply to women in opposite-sex relationships. Whether you are married or divorced, or in a relationship with a person of the same or opposite sex, you may be protected by VAWA. You may still be eligible even if you already divorced your abusive spouse, but you must file your application within two years of your divorce. Our Boston VAWA attorneys can help you understand all eligibility and application requirements. Call today.