The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) opened an opportunity for obtaining a green card for victims of domestic violence in the United States. Under VAWA, the victim can seek “adjustment of status.” This means that if you were a subject to domestic violence that by using the VAWA petition, you may become lawful permanent residents. The requirement to be met is either the abuser is or was:
- A U.S. citizen
- Or legal permanent resident (LPR)
VAWA permits the applicant to self-petition on Form I-360 for immigrant benefits, even if you are not anymore in the marriage with the abuser, but as long as you can:
- Prove a connection between the divorce and the domestic violence,
- File a form within two years from the termination of the marriage.
As a VAWA petitioner, you must submit documents proving that the marriage was bona fide, showing you are of good moral character, as well as that the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident abused you (physically and/or mentally) during the marriage. If you want to demonstrate that the child suffered the abuse during a residence with the parent, you have to file proper documentation, as well. Also, you have to do it along with the I-360 form.
When USCIS approves your I-360 petition, then you will qualify for adjustment of status by filing Form I-485.
If the abuser has lost U.S. citizenship or an LRP status, you may also qualify under VAWA status, but only if the loss of status was related to an event of domestic violence. If the abuser lost the LPR status after you file the self-petition, this wouldn’t impact the outcome.