VAWA: IMMIGRANT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

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VAWA is one of the last resorts for abused immigrants. Thanks to VAWA, immigrant victims of domestic violence do not have to suffer in silence.

What is VAWA?

The acronym VAWA stands for Violence Against Women Act. It was originally signed into law by former U.S. President Bill Clinton on September 13, 1994. VAWA sought to enhance criminal justice and responses of people in the community to stalking, sexual, domestic, and dating violence. VAWA was created to protect abuse victims that are non-citizens of the United States. Victims of domestic violence can get a lawful status without their abuser’s petition, thanks to VAWA.

How It Works

A USC or LPR must file a petition with USCIS before his/her parent, child, or spouse can get a lawful permanent resident status. Such USC or LPR may also accompany the prospective USC or LPR to the Immigration authorities for an interview. Furthermore, if you obtain your LPR status when you have been married for less than two years, a ‘conditional permanent residence’ (generally called ‘conditional green card’) will be issued to you. Before the ‘condition’ is removed and you obtain a full lawful permanent residence, your spouse files a joint petition (I-751) with you.

The narrative is different when domestic violence ensues in relationships. The abuser uses the requirements for the USC or LPR’s participation to abuse, gain power, and control the victim. Hence, the latter’s immigration status will be at the mercy of the abuser. However, Some non-citizens who are victims of abuse can obtain legal status on their own without the involvement of the abuser in filing a petition for the victim.

After its passage into law in 1994, the reauthorization of VAWA in 2000, 2005, and 2013 has shown that dating violence, sexual assault, and domestic violence are menaces that the US society will not tolerate.

Note: The abuse does not need to be strictly physical. It could also be emotional abuse.  For instance, someone who undermines you constantly and weakens your self-esteem is emotionally abusive.

How Long Does VAWA Take To Be Approved?

USCIS does not give a timeline for VAWA cases to be approved. USCIS can approve VAWA between six months and 34 months. The delay could be because USCIS is understaffed. A ‘first come, first served’ basis is employed to determine when your VAWA case will be approved, and there is no way to speed it up.

Who Does VAWA Protect?

VAWA’s 2005 reauthorization included a non-exclusive provision. The reauthorization clarifies that VAWA should not prevent male victims from enjoying the privileges provided by the Act. The baseline remains that violence is violence no matter the gender of the victim. Hence, VAWA applies to every victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, the gender notwithstanding. No part of the Act denies you from enjoying the funding, programs, or other services as a male victim.

The persons listed below are eligible to access the privileges of the immigration provisions of VAWA:

  • A husband or wife who has been abused by a permanent resident (Green Card holder) spouse or U.S. citizen or spouse. The petitioner’s children, who are under 21 years, will also be covered by the provisions.
  • A child who has been abused by a U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent. The child can file a petition or the petition can be filed by the child’s parent on his or her behalf.
  • Parents being abused by a U.S. citizen child that is at least 21 years old.

How To Write a VAWA Affidavit?

Before writing an affidavit, you must ensure that every statement you write for a VAWA filing is true. The few tips below will guide you on how to write a successful VAWA declaration:

  • Have an outline and stick to it. An outline will guide you on writing essential points and will prevent you from missing cogent ones. Ensure that you add time references for each occurrence you include in your descriptions.
  • Give detailed descriptions of abuse. In as much as it may be difficult to recount your experiences, it will do you a world of good to give specific details of the abuse. For example: ‘we argued a lot about what time I should get home daily and he called me names’. This is less detailed and generic to most cases of name-calling. “We argued about how he gave me a token of $15.00 a week from my paycheck. He prevents me from working extra hours, so I can’t augment our monthly take home. He called me a foolish Honduran who is only lucky to be here. On several occasions, he threw a slipper at me which I barely missed”. This example implies that your spouse financially harmed you, and attempted to harm you physically.
  • Be Sincere

USCIS checks your statements thoroughly and compares them with the supporting documents you put in your file. For this reason, you must not exaggerate incidents. USCIS will examine your statements for contradictions. Being sincere can be a determining factor as to whether your petition will be granted or not – lack of sincerity will be taken as lack of credibility.

File Now! Silence The Violence

If you’re being subjected to domestic violence, do not under any circumstance, keep it under wraps. No one deserves to be treated like that, and you definitely do not need to hide it either.

Do not suffer in silence – You are not alone! They say fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me! If you get hit the first and second time, there will most likely be a third time.

Save yourself the physical and mental trauma. File VAWA now and put an end to domestic violence! We will help you: you are not alone.Contact The HMA Law Firm for guidance, and intervention! You only have one life, and we will fight to protect it!

Reach out to us by jumping on a call, or filling our contact form!

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