Unfortunately, there are reported instances in which noncitizen individuals are abused by a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident, with whom they have a familial relationship with. Abused individuals are often hesitant to speak out or leave, out of fear that they may jeopardize their residing in the United States. This is when the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) comes into play. Follow along to find out whether you are eligible to self-petition for a visa through VAWA and how a proficient Baltimore County, Maryland immigration lawyer at The Sheri Hoidra Law Office, LLC can work to protect you.
What forms of extreme cruelty constitute a visa through VAWA?
First of all, a visa through VAWA requires that a self-petitioner be a victim of “extreme cruelty.” The different forms of extreme cruelty recognized by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) are as follows:
- Physical abuse.
- Verbal abuse.
- Emotional abuse.
- Financial abuse.
- Violent acts or threats of violence.
- Coercion or threats to take away your children.
- Threats of deportation.
Am I eligible to self-petition for a visa through VAWA?
Besides being subject to extreme cruelty, a self-petitioner must meet additional eligibility requirements to obtain a visa through VAWA via Form I-360. They are as follows:
- They must have one of the following relationships with the alleged abuser:
- The spouse of the alleged abuser.
- The (unmarried and younger than 21) child of the alleged abuser.
- The other parent of the (unmarried and younger than 21) child of the alleged abuser.
- The parent of the alleged (adult) abuser.
- They must have been abused during their stay in the United States and while living with the alleged abuser.
- They must have a “good moral character” (i.e., no criminal record or immigration transgressions).
And if a self-petition is approved, the USCIS may grant deferred action. From here, an individual may apply for work authorization while waiting for an adjustment of status.
Am I eligible for an I-751 waiver petition?
On the other hand, there is the Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments (IMFA) Act. This act requires a “conditional residence” period to ensure that immigrant spouses are not entering into a fraudulent marriage with a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident solely to get an adjustment of status themselves.
Usually, to waive these conditions, an immigrant spouse must file a petition jointly with their spouse. But in 1990, additional amendments were made to the IMFA Act. Meaning, there is now a special waiver to the joint petition requirement for immigrant spouses who are experiencing extreme cruelty or otherwise abuse.
Instead, they may be eligible to file for an I-751 petition on their own. This is so they do not need to rely on or notify their alleged abuser that they wish to seek an adjustment of status.
Regardless, you must take your self-petition seriously. So pick up the phone and call a talented Baltimore County, Maryland immigration lawyer today. Someone at The Sheri Hoidra Law Office, LLC will be happy to answer.