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Battered Spouse, Children & Parents

A spouse, child or parent that has been abused may be eligible for certain immigration benefits, as provided under immigration law, amended by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Immigration authorities treat such applications with a higher level of confidentiality, and this Law Firm also takes additional steps to ensure the highest level of privacy.

Under the law – which applies equally to men and women – victims related to citizens and lawful permanent residents may file a self-petition, without the abuser’s knowledge. Therefore, the victim can seek a level of protection and independence from the abuser, who is not made aware of the filing.

General Eligibility

An abused spouse is eligible to self-petition if:

  • The marriage to a citizen or resident is currently in effect, or was terminated within 2 years to the self-petition filing.
  • The marriage was entered into in good faith and the abused spouse is a person of good moral character.
  • The spouses lived together at some point.

An abused child is eligible to self-petition if her or she:

  • Is the child of and resided with the citizen or resident abuser.
  • Is of good moral character.
  • NOTE: the abused child may be included as a dependent in his or her mother’s self-petition. The child may self-petition after age 21 but before 25 if he or she can show that the reason for the late filing was mainly caused by the abuse.

An abused parent is eligible if he or she:

  • Has been abused by the U.S. citizen son or daughter or is the parent of a child that has been victim to abuse by a citizen or resident.
  • Resided with the abusive son or daughter
  • Is a person of good moral character

The Filing Process

  1. The VAWA application and supporting documents are filed with the appropriate USCIS Office
  2. If the filing is appropriate, a Prima Facie Determination Notice will be issued by USCIS. This document permits the abused to apply for certain public benefits while the VAWA application is in process.
  3. If the VAWA application is approved, work authorization (including for dependent children) may be granted.

Important Note for Those Requiring Immediate Assistance

Victims of abuse can receive free advice and assistance from the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TDD). The hotline has information about shelters, mental health care, legal advice and other types of assistance.

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