(Violence Against Women Act)
Victims of Domestic Abuse
If you think you are or might be the victim of domestic abuse, the Violence Against
Women Act (VAWA) is an important piece of legislaton that may apply to your case,
providing the ability for victims of domestic abuse to self-petition for permanent
residence, removal of conditions on permanent residence, or naturalization.
VAWA was designed to prevent abused spouses from being forced to remain in an
abusive relationship to wait out the processing time of their pending petition for
It is an all too common situation: U.S. citizen and alien spouse meet, get married, and
then apply for permanent resident. Absent a VAWA determination, the District
Adjudicator Officer will insist that both husband and wife be present at the adjustment
interview or will deny the petition.
This has the potential to lead abused spouses to feel locked-in and endure all sorts of
humiliation, threats, physical and emotional violence, and outright blackmail out of fear
of abandoning their permanent residence application.
IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE THAT WAY! IF YOU MEET CERTAIN REQUIREMENTS,
YOU CAN STILL PRESERVE YOUR ABILITY TO PETITION FOR PERMANENT
RESIDENCE AND ESCAPE THE ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP.
Studies have shown that in abusive relationships there is a well documented "cycle of
violence" consisting of an escalation of threats, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, and
ultimately physical violence upon the victim. This often is followed by a period of regret
by the abuser, apologies, a period of normal behavior, leading to renewed threats and
increased levels of mental and physical abuse. In these cases, it is often best to break
up the relationship before this vicious circle escalates to its extreme consequences.
If you throw into the mix immigration, long pending green card petitions, and the
perceived need of the victim to remain with the abuser, you can envision the abused
spouse actually forcing herself (or himself) to remain in the very situation that he or
she should escape.
This does not mean that all victims of domestic violence have a free ticket to a green
card. The VAWA petitioner still has to show that he or she was abused, and that he or
she entered into a good faith marriage not solely for immigration purposes.
However, if you are or think you might be a victim of domestic abuse, and you have a
pending petition or application for immigration benefits, we urge you to contact a
skilled immigration lawyer to assess the possibility of escaping the abuse while still
maintaining the ability to keep the immigrant petition alive.
NONE OF THE ABOVE CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE.
IF THE VAWA SELF-PETITION IS NOT GRANTED, YOU WILL STILL NEED YOUR
SPOUSE OR YOUR IMMEDIATE RELATIVE PETITION WILL BE DENIED.
PRIOR TO ACTING BASED ON THE ABOVE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONSULT AN
EXPERIENCED IMMIGRATION LAWYER.
For these any other services, or to consult an immigration lawyer at our offices, please
see our consultation policy
Law Offices of Giuseppe Scagliarini
|Giuseppe Scagliarini, Esq.
37 Harrison Avenue
Newport, RI 02840