A spouse, child or parent who has been subject to extreme cruelty or battery by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) spouse or parent may file a Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petition. VAWA petitions are available to the victims of domestic violence and may be either male or female victims. In order to qualify, a victim of domestic violence has to meet several requirements. The self-petitioner must establish that he or she is the spouse of a U.S. citizen or LPR; resides in the United States when the self-petition is filed; resided with the abuser in the United States in the past; has been battered or subject to extreme cruelty by the Citizen or LPR spouse during the marriage; is a person of good moral character; is a person whose deportation would result in extreme hardship to himself, herself, or his or her child; and the victim entered into a good faith marriage with the Citizen or LPR.

Before filing a VAWA case, evidence must be gathered to establish the above-mentioned requirements. For example, the petition must be accompanied by evidence of the marriage relationship, such as a marriage certificate. To satisfy the requirement that the abusive spouse or parent is a U.S. Citizen or LPR, a copy of their birth certificate or resident card should be provided. With respect to providing evidence of the abuse, the victim may include police reports, temporary restraining orders, affidavits from police and judges, medical reports, and letters from doctors. To satisfy a good faith marriage requirement and the requirement that the self-petitioner resided with the abuser, the self-petitioner must submit documentary proof which includes, but is not limited to, joint accounts, credit card bills evidencing both names, apartment leases, driver’s licenses showing the same address of both, insurance records held in both names, federal tax returns filed jointly, and birth certificates of children.  In order to show that the victim is a person of good moral character, the self-petition should provide an affidavit from the self-petitioner, accompanied by a local police clearance, and letters from individuals. Evidence of extreme hardship includes affidavits, birth certificates of children, etc.

Once the VAWA petition is approved, the next step will be to proceed with obtaining permanent resident status based on the approved self-petition. Please contact us if you have been or are subject to abuse by a U.S. citizen or LPR spouse, or parent.