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  • By: Serving Immigrants
  • Published: March 1, 2021
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The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) creates a special provision in the United States immigration law that protects the victims of domestic abuse who are not U.S. citizens. Typically, if you are the spouse, child, or parent of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, that person will have to apply for a green card on your behalf. However, under VAWA, you may be able to obtain legal immigration status on your own. Here are some further frequently asked questions about VAWA.

What Is A “Derivative?”

A derivative is an individual who is not a United States citizen who can obtain legal immigration status through another non-citizen who is the principal applicant. For example, an abused person seeking status under VAWA may also seek status for their minor children.

What Are “Inadmissibility Grounds?”

Inadmissibility grounds are reasons why an individual cannot be admitted to the United States. These grounds can include things such as certain criminal convictions or committing different types of fraud. You may not be qualified to receive an immigration benefit based on inadmissibility grounds. However, an experienced immigration attorney can tell you if you fall under one of these inadmissibility grounds and whether there are any waivers or exemptions that may help you.

Can Men Qualify For VAWA?

Though the term women is used in the act, men may also qualify for VAWA protections.

Is A Stepchild Considered A Child For VAWA Purposes?

Under immigration law, a child is considered a biological child, an adopted child, or a stepchild. However, a stepchild must be under the age of 18 at the time of the marriage, and an adopted child must be 16 or under at the time of the adoption.

What Protections Are Available Under VAWA?

There are three (3) possible forms of relief under VAWA, and each has its own requirements.

  • VAWA self-petition—you may be eligible to self-petition for legal permanent residency without the assistance of the abuser.
  • Battered spouse or child waiver—if you have conditional legal permanent residence, you can have the condition removed without the assistance of the abuser.
  • VAWA cancellation of removal—if you are in the middle of removal proceedings before an immigration judge, it might be possible to apply for cancellation of removal based on abuse and/or extreme cruelty by a United States citizen or a lawful permanent resident. It is very important to contact an attorney if you are considering this route.

Can One Apply For VAWA If He/she Has Been Divorced From Their USC Or Lawful Permanent Resident Abuser?

Yes. One can apply for VAWA self-petition up to two (2) years from the date of divroce and/or legal separation from his/her abuser. One can apply for VAWA cancellation at any time in removal proceedings even if more than two (2) years have passed since the divorce from ones USC or lawful permanent resident abuser.

Contact An Experienced Immigration Attorney

If you want to explore your options under VAWA, you should consult with an experienced immigration attorney. At Serving Immigrants, we have the knowledge and record of success that you need. Contact us online or call us at 305-907-6151 to schedule a strategy session.

Image of Attorney Magdalena Cuprys, Esq with 4.7 start reviews

Attorney Magdalena Cuprys is a seasoned immigration lawyer based in Orlando and Coral Gables, Florida. With three languages under her belt and years of legal experience working with immigrants of all kinds, she brings considerable experience and insight to the field and works hard to explain immigration concepts, empower future citizens, and keep current and prospective immigrants up to date on US immigration law.

Connect with her firm, Serving Immigrants, to stay updated on the latest developments in United States immigration law and gain valuable insights needed to navigate the challenging legal landscape of immigration in Florida. 

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