So-called “VAWA” petitions, while a source of some controversy, provide a valuable tool for New Jersey immigration attorneys seeking to find a way for their clients to remain in the country. Successful petitioners can even obtain Green cards to obtain permanent residency and later naturalize to become United States Citizens.
The U.S. Legislature passed the Violence against Women Act to help those who may be in the country temporarily, out of status, or even here illegally who have been subjected to of spousal abuse. A VAWA petition can be flied and can lead to the petitioner remaining in the country and adjusting status to Lawful Permanent Resident “Green Card Holder”.
The person who caused the domestic abuse must have been a U.S. citizen or green card holding (LPR) spouse or parent of the petitioner. VAWA allows applicants to apply by using Form I-360 to obtain immigrant benefits. This can be done even if the marriage terminated in divorce. Importantly, the VAWA applicant must demonstrate a nexus between the relationship and the domestic violence and must also file the petition within two years of the end of the marriage.
It is even possible for VAWA petitioners and their kids to qualify under the law if the abusing spouse is no longer a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident. The petitioner under the Act must have good moral character.
The VAWA applicant bears the burden of proving that they were physically or mentally abused by their spouse during the marriage or the child while the time the child lived with the parent (See 8CFR §204.2(c)(1)(i)(E), (F), (e)(1)(E),(F)).
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