Violence Against Women’s Act (VAWA)
VAWA is a bill that allows women AND men who are victims of abuse to obtain a green card without having to stay in an abusive situation or be forced to have their abuser sponsor you. It also sometimes allows you to get a green card for derivative beneficiaries – like your children.
As said before, the most important thing is your safety. In the US, it’s not okay for your spouse to abuse you. Some shelters can offer housing, financial assistance, and legal direction.
What counts as abuse?
We had a viewer who recently shared some disturbing incidences with her spouse. She wasn’t sure what to do or how to proceed. This viewer said her husband took the sim card from her phone so she couldn’t communicate with her family. In many cities and states, it is abuse to interfere with a communication device. That means they can’t take your phone away from you or take the sim card out.
For VAWA purposes, abuse can take different forms:
- your spouse may say they are going to get you deported if you don’t do what they say,
- they may cut you off from contacting family or friends, or not allow you to work outside the home.
- They may push or shove or hit you.
- They may call you names.
What can I do if I’m abused?
You don’t have to accept it or stay with them for immigration purposes. Often, people who come to the US are afraid to call the police. Even US citizens who are victims of domestic violence find some police aren’t very sympathetic toward what is happening to them. This is slowly changing, and some police departments have victim advocates to help you through the process, but sadly, we have seen this does continue to happen.
In fact, we had one commenter who told the victim to stay in the relationship until she had her green card, and then she should leave. That is usually the wrong advice. Don’t stay in an abusive relationship just to get your Green Card. You don’t have to stay in that relationship to get a Green Card.
Do I need a police report to get a Green Card?
A commenter said that if they didn’t have a police report they couldn’t get their Green Card. While it does help to have a police report, it doesn’t make it impossible if you don’t have one. A good immigration attorney should be able to help with this.
We had another commenter say that they didn’t have a police report so couldn’t get a U visa. That isn’t accurate. In most cases, to get a law enforcement certification, known as a supplement B, you need a police report. Law enforcement isn’t limited to just the police. However, you do need to have been willing to or did cooperate with the authorities to get a U visa.
For example, if your Child Protective Services investigated a situation in the family home, if there is evidence that you were a victim of a crime, that report could be enough.
VAWA Application outside the US
A commenter asked about getting a VAWA Visa while in Guam. In a recent video, we talked about applying for VAWA outside the US and that it is possible.
Divorce and VAWA
Should I get a divorce?
You don’t have to get a divorce but staying with your abuser may make USCIS think you’re committing fraud when you apply for your Green Card.
What can make USCIS think I committed fraud?
A couple, not our client, once claimed there was abuse in their relationship. They separated and divorced, and the female got her Green Card through VAWA. A few years later they got back together and USCIS took her Green Card away saying she had received it through fraud.
Many people return to their abusers. That is one of the reasons law enforcement isn’t the most sympathetic when it comes to domestic violence. Does that mean there was fraud? Not always. That couple said that they had gotten therapy and he wasn’t abusive anymore. Unfortunately, USCIS wasn’t buying it.
If we were their attorney, would they have gotten a better outcome? We will never know. We recommend that you look at how your behavior might be seen by USCIS in the future and to be cautious.
We did have one commenter who told us that the immigration officer told her to get divorced, and she did and got her green card through VAWA. We appreciate you responding so kindly to others’ comments and we’re happy you were able to get out of that relationship and get your green card.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
Alejandro Mayorkas is the person that President-Elect Biden has picked to be the head of DHS. He worked for USCIS under the Obama administration and he is an excellent choice. Plus, he will be the first immigrant and Latino in charge of that agency if he is confirmed.
In a call with Mr. Mayorkas, he explained that you MUST meet the criteria as outlined in the law to be eligible. There are no exceptions.
Criteria for DACA
- You had to have entered the US before you were 16 years old, as proven by travel records, school records, or medical certificates, or other documentation.
- You must be under 31 years old or younger on June 15, 2012, as proven in your birth certificate, which needs to be translated into English and certified.
- You must have lived in the US continuously from June 15, 2007, until now. You can show proof of staying in the U.S. using your tax returns, photos, school records, medical records, letters from friends, and family with legal status in the US.
- You must have been physically inside the US on June 15, 2012, AND you didn’t have legal status on that date.
- You must be in school, have graduated from HS, have your GED, or about to get your GED. If you’re still in school, you can provide your school transcript and the target date of graduation. If you never went to school in the US or you didn’t graduate from high school, you can register for either a class to learn English as a prerequisite to completing GED or by enrolling directly in a GED program.
- You can’t have committed any serious crimes or 3 or more misdemeanors. If you were arrested for any reason, you need to discuss your situation with a qualified immigration attorney before filing for DACA. If you were convicted of a serious crime or have one pending, you should not apply until the case is resolved. Those convicted of crimes may only apply by filing a post-conviction relief motion and changing the conviction.
Viewer concerns with DACA criteria
We had someone say that their friend was born in 1979 so they didn’t think she qualified. That’s correct, unfortunately, she doesn’t.
Someone asked if they could translate their birth certificate themselves. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Every translation requires a certification about the authenticity of the translation which must be included with a copy of the original document and the translation. We recommend you have someone else do it, even if it’s a family member. It’s the officer’s discretion. Don’t give them a reason to doubt you.
Another viewer’s mom met all the criteria but she doesn’t have a high school diploma or GED and she’s not in school. Unfortunately, she won’t qualify either, we recommend she start getting her GED asap.
Another commenter asked us if we knew of anyone with a drug conviction that was approved for DACA. It’s hard to say without more information. A drug conviction will always disqualify you but we recommend you speak with a qualified immigration attorney and determine if there is something that can be done. You may be able to re-open and undo a drug conviction before applying for DACA. We have done it for others. It depends on the situation.
Do I need to get Advance Parole if I have DACA?
Yes, you should. We have a video talking about why that is but you can read about it here briefly.
The reason you have DACA is that you don’t have legal status. DACA doesn’t give you legal status, it just keeps you from being deported and gives you work authorization.
Chances are you probably entered the US illegally, right? If you get Advance Parole, and you leave the US, when you come back in, you now have a legal entry to the US. With legal entry plus a U.S. citizen spouse or a U.S. citizen child over 21, you can get your Green Card. You won’t need a waiver or have to leave the US to get your Green Card.
Does Advance Parole guarantee entry into the US?
Several people have asked if getting Advance Parole was a guarantee they would not be stopped at the border or if it guaranteed they’d be allowed to come back to the US.
Until you are a US Citizen, there is never a guarantee you will be allowed back in the US. Every time you enter you will go through Customs and every time Customs can decide if they will or will not let you enter. That is true for any visa or green card holder. This only changes when you become a US Citizen.
Keep in mind that Advance Parole makes entry more likely, but it’s not a 100% guarantee.
Immigration under Biden
We are happy that so many of you enjoyed our video on what we think about the amnesty program with President-elect Biden. To be clear – this has not yet happened. We haven’t seen any written language about this except his website and we can’t give you specific answers because no one has them yet.
We don’t even know that an amnesty program will be adopted by the US particularly if the Republicans continue to control the Senate. Do we think the US needs it? Yes. As soon as we find out more, we’ll let you know.
Can the ban be reformed?
One viewer asked if we thought if the 3- or 10-year ban would ever be reformed. We assume that you meant, “will it go away? “
If you have been in the US without legal status for a certain time period and you leave the US, you are barred from re-entering for 3 or 10 years. If you return without a waiver, you could be barred for 10 years and there is no waiver for that second entry.
This was asked under our amnesty video so maybe you thought maybe this would happen with amnesty. If you are inside the US, it might. If you have been banned from the US, and are no longer living here, I don’t see that changing. If you have a 3- or 10-year ban there are waivers that our law office has been successful with for clients depending on the situation. I would talk to a qualified immigration attorney to see if one of those might be an option for you.
I should get a free consultation, right?
We had some individuals that felt like we should have given them a free consultation and said that other attorneys offer one. We do offer a free consultation for those who qualify. What that means is if you are eligible for legal status, you will probably qualify for a free consultation.
If you already have an immigration attorney so you’re looking for a second opinion, or you’ve already met with us with a free consultation, you usually won’t qualify. We will meet with you, but you’ll need to pay for our time. We have over 15 years of legal experience and we know we provide a great value for what we charge, and that if it’s important to you, you’ll find the money.
What’s faster for getting a green card?
A viewer asked if it was faster to get a K1 visa and then get married to get a green card or get married first. Right now, with this administration and COVID many people who have applied for a K1 visa have not been able to see each other since before March.
When COVID is not in the picture, with a K1 you’re usually able to be together sooner and stay together while the green card application is processing. As opposed to if you get married outside the US and then your spouse must wait until the green card is approved before your spouse can enter the US.
We created a video discussing the difference between getting married for a green card or a green card through the fiancé process.
If you need an immigration lawyer, call our office. If we can’t help you, we won’t take your money. We can’t help you if you don’t call us. Contact us today through Andres Mejer Law or call us at 888-421-9942.