Violence Against Women Act
Attorney in Dallas, Texas
The American Immigration Council estimates there are 23 million immigrant women and girls in the United States, representing more than half of the foreign-born population. Many of these non-immigrant women are subjected to violence at home by an abusive spouse or parent. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) allows these victims to “self-petition” the government to obtain legal residency status. The VAWA also applies equally to male victims of violence and to children who are abused.
If you’ve been subjected to abuse by a spouse or parent and wish to gain Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status and a Green Card, call me at the M Matthew Law Firm, PLLC. As an immigrant myself, I understand your hopes and fears and will help you every step along the way as you attempt to navigate the process of obtaining your Green Card.
I am proud to serve clients in Dallas, Texas, and the surrounding areas of Richardson, Lewisville, Irving, Farmers Branch, Grand Prairie, Garland, and Mesquite, Texas — so call or reach out to my office today to schedule a case consultation.
VAWA and Its Provisions
The Violence Against Women Act was first enacted in 1994 and then reauthorized and expanded in 2000, 2005, and 2013. VAWA amended the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to allow certain spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizens, as well as certain spouses and children of permanent residents (Green Card holders) to file a residency petition for themselves, without the abuser's knowledge.
Spouses, whether male or female, can file for themselves if they have been abused by a U.S. citizen or permanent resident (LPR), or if their child has been abused. They can include the child or children in the petition, provided that the children have not already filed a petition themselves.
Parents may file if their son or daughter has been abused by a U.S. citizen. Children may apply for themselves if they have been abused and are under 21, but that filing period can be extended to age 25 if they can show the delay was due to ongoing abuse.
The “self-petition” process, as it is called, will ultimately lead to the issuance of a Green Card and elevation to Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status.
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How to Qualify for Adjustment of Status
To self-petition, the qualifying individual must submit Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, along with supporting documents. You must also file Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, along with supporting documents, to obtain a Green Card, if you have not already done so.
If your abusive spouse or parent has already filed Form I-485 for you as your sponsor, you need to request that it be converted to a VAWA petition.
Several support documents will be required, along with two passport-style photographs. Given the number of required documents, it can quickly become confusing to attempt to navigate this process on your own. With my extensive legal knowledge and experience, you can work with me so that together, we can assemble all your needed documentation.
This may also require the completion of additional immigration forms such as I-797, I-693, I-94, I-601, and I-212. I know firsthand how overwhelming this process can feel. That’s why you can trust me to help you meet all the documentary requirements and ensure your paperwork is filled out accurately and submitted on time.
Other Forms of Relief: U and T Visas
The Battered Immigrant Women Protection Act of 2000 (VAWA 2000) created new forms of immigration relief for non-citizen victims of violent crime (“U” visas) and victims of involuntary servitude or trafficking (“T” visas).
A U visa can be granted to a non-citizen crime victim who agrees to assist in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal offense. A U visa allows the recipient to live and work legally in the United States. Spouses and unmarried children under 21 can be included.
To qualify, the non-citizen victim must have suffered “substantial physical or mental abuse,” which includes rape, torture, trafficking, incest, domestic violence, sexual assault, prostitution, being held hostage, and more. Though a U visa does expire in four years, the visa holder is allowed to apply for LPR status after three years.
A T visa is also available to victims of a “severe form of human trafficking,” which generally means being forced into commercial sex as an immigrant under the age of 18, or being forced, coerced, or induced into involuntary slavery or servitude.
Like U visas, T visas cover spouses and minor unmarried children in providing legal resident and work status. Like a U visa, a T visa also expires after four years, but can be converted into LPR status after three years. U visas are capped at 10,000 a year, but T visas have no limit.
Work with An Attorney Who Understands Immigration Law
If you’ve suffered abuse under the circumstances described above, you can confidentially — meaning without your abuser’s knowledge — petition for permanent resident status and a Green Card. This process can seem incredibly daunting if you attempt to do it on your own. Luckily, you do not have to face these challenges on your own.
As a former immigrant myself, I am dedicated to helping individuals exercise all of their rights under United States law. Over the years I have helped countless immigrants and their families successfully pursue citizenship and escape an abusive home. If you or someone you know is in need of help, please call or reach out to my firm today to schedule a case consultation. I would be happy to sit down and discuss the details of your situation and outline how I might be able to help.
VAWA Attorney in Dallas, Texas
The Violence Against Women Act can be a lifeline that can offer entry into a lifetime of safe and secure residency. If you’re looking for help, contact me, Kavi Mathew, at the M Matthew Law Firm, PLLC, today for experienced legal counsel and reliable guidance. My firm is proud to serve individuals and families in Dallas, Texas, and the nearby communities of Richardson, Lewisville, Irving, Farmers Branch, Grand Prairie, Garland, and Mesquite. Call today to schedule a consultation!