A family-based immigration process is a wonderful tool for citizens of other countries who wish to join their family members who are U.S. citizens. However, the family-based immigration process requires the immigration petition to be filed by the family member who is already a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.
What happens if that family member is abusive or controlling? As a noncitizen, your dream of receiving your green card and becoming a U.S. citizen is marred by your abusive relationship.
You may want to come to the United States but not live with your abuser. You may not want them to know you are in the country, or you may be afraid that they will use their control over your petition to continue to control or threaten you.
What is a VAWA-self petition?
Luckily, there is an option for you through the Violence Against Women Act, which allows noncitizens who were abused by their family member who is a U.S. citizen to file a petition on their own, through a VAWA self-petition. Abuse is defined as being a victim of battery of extreme cruelty.
You may file a VASA self-petition without your abuser’s knowledge or permission. They will have no control over your immigration status and no part in the process.
Who can file a VASA self-petition?
Spouses, parents and children of an abuser can file a VAWA self-petition. If you are married to an abuser in the United States, you may add your child to the petition if they are also a victim of abuse by the abuser. Minor children and unmarried children under 21 can be added.
Children who are over age 21 but under age 25 can still apply for a VAWA self-petition; however, evidence must be provided showing that abuse from the parent was the reason for the filing delay. These types of situations are often challenging and may require the help of an experienced Florida immigration attorney.
A VAWA self-petition may also be filed by parents seeking admission to the United States who were abused by a U.S. citizen child. Once your VAWA self-petition is approved, you may pursue a green card to become a lawful permanent resident.
The immigration process is complex, and you should not have to rely on an abusive family member to complete the process. We are here to help.