The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) does not only exist for women or battered wives. While it is a common misconception, this law is not exclusive to women, in general, or wives, in particular.
But more than the law, let’s discuss what is the impact of this legislation on your green card application.
To learn more about how VAWA affects your visa application, let Andres Mejer, a New Jersey immigration attorney and author, discuss this law. The following questions will be answered in this article:
- What is the Violence Against Women Act?
- Who is Eligible to File for VAWA?
- What Are the Eligibility Requirements of VAWA for a Spouse?
- What Are the Eligibility Requirements of VAWA for a Child?
- What Are the Eligibility Requirements of VAWA for a Parent?
- How to File for VAWA?
- What is the Evidence to Include With Form I-360?
- What is the Impact of VAWA on Your Green Card Applications?
- How Much Does it Cost When Applying for a VAWA Visa?
- How Long Does it Take to Get a VAWA Green Card?
What is the Violence Against Women Act?
In 1994, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The Act addressed congressional concerns about violent crime, particularly violence against women in various areas. It authorized grants to state, local, and tribal law enforcement entities to investigate and prosecute violent crimes against women, among other things.
Since its inception, VAWA has been reauthorized three times. The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (P.L. 113-4) was just enacted by Congress and signed by President Obama, reauthorizing most VAWA programs through FY2018, among other things.
Through a collaborative effort by the criminal justice system, social service agencies, research organizations, schools, public health organizations, and private organizations, VAWA aims to prevent violent crime, respond to the needs of crime victims, learn more about crime, and change public attitudes. The federal government primarily pursues these objectives through federal grant programs that provide financing to state, tribal, territorial, and municipal governments and nonprofit organizations and colleges.
Although some VAWA programs cover additional offenses, most VAWA programs focus on domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking—crimes in which women are most likely to be victims. Most VAWA award projects focus on the criminal justice system and community responses to these crimes, although some also promote prevention.
Who is Eligible to File for VAWA?
Spouse. If you are the battered spouse of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you may apply for yourself. If your unmarried children under 21 have not filed for themselves, you may add them to your petition.
Parents. If you are the parent of a U.S. citizen and have been mistreated by your U.S. citizen son or daughter, you may register a complaint.
Child. If you are an abused child under the age of 21, unmarried, and mistreated by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent, you may apply for yourself.. If you can show that the abuse was the primary cause of the delay in filing, you can file for yourself as a child after 21 but before 25.
What Are the Eligibility Requirements of VAWA for a Spouse?
- You are married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident abuser and have a qualified spousal connection.
- Within the two years before submitting your petition, your marriage to the abuser ended either in death or a divorce (associated with the abuse).
- Due to an act of domestic abuse, your spouse lost or renounced citizenship or permanent residence status during the two years before submitting your petition.
- You thought you were lawfully married to your abusive U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, but the marriage was invalid due to your abusive spouse’s bigamy.
- Your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse has committed violence or shown extreme cruelty to you or your child.
- You married in good faith, not just for the sake of immigration advantages.
- You’ve lived with your spouse.
- You are a morally upright individual.
What Are the Eligibility Requirements of VAWA for a Child?
- You have a parent-child connection that qualifies you.
- You are the child of an abuser who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
- You are the child of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who has lost citizenship or legal permanent residence status due to a domestic violence event.
- Your U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent has subjected you to violence or severe cruelty.
- You’ve lived with your abusive parents.
- You are a person of excellent moral character (a child under the age of 14 is assumed to be of good moral character).
What Are the Eligibility Requirements of VAWA for a Parent?
- You have a qualifying parent or son or daughter relationship.
- When the self-petition is filed, you are the parent of a U.S. citizen son or daughter at least 21 years old.
- You are the parent of a United States citizen son or daughter who has lost or renounced citizenship due to a domestic violence occurrence.
- You are the parent of a U.S. citizen son or daughter who died within two years of filing the self-petition and was at least 21 years old.
- Your U.S. citizen son or daughter has assaulted you or treated you cruelly.
- You’ve shared a home with your abusive son or daughter.
- You are a morally upright individual.
How to File for VAWA?
You must not only fill out and submit USCIS Form I-360 when applying the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), but you must also supply evidence that you fulfill the VAWA eligibility conditions and qualify for relief.
What is the Evidence to Include With Form I-360?
In addition to Form I-360, you’ll need to show that you’ve met all of VAWA’s standards. This proof should at the very least include the following:
- a declaration describing your relationship with the abuser and the abuse you suffered
- police clearance records or other evidence to show you are a person of “good moral character
- a copy of your passport or birth certificate
- proof that the abuser is a U.S. citizen or green card holder
- evidence that you are the abuser’s spouse, child, or parent
- proof that you lived with the abuser
- evidence that you suffered abuse
- evidence that you currently live in the United States
What is the Impact of VAWA on Your Green Card Applications?
VAWA applications can be submitted privately. It means that your abuser (spouse or child) does not have to be aware that you are applying. In your application, you have the option of using a different address. All government entities have been informed that they cannot reveal your VAWA application under the law.
VAWA Helps You Get a Permanent Green Card
VAWA allows you to overcome concerns from your past that would normally disqualify you from being granted a Green Card. It is not conditional when you acquire a green card through VAWA. Instead, it is suitable for ten years.
VAWA Helps You Become Admissible to the U.S.
Becoming admissible will assist you in your application for a green card. If you cannot enter the country due to anything that happened in your past, you may be eligible for a waiver.
VAWA Allows Inadmissible Applicants to Apply for a Waiver
Waivers can assist you in resolving difficulties such as unlawful presence, a permanent bar, an order of removal, fraud, felonies, and health issues, all of which are frequently grounds for inadmissibility. To be given a waiver, you must demonstrate that you or a member of your family will suffer “severe hardship” if the waiver is not granted. Usually, the hardship is only experienced by a member of your family, but under VAWA immigration, the hardship may also be experienced by you.
How Much Does it Cost When Applying for a VAWA Visa?
Once we receive your consultation request, we will begin by asking you the three critical qualification questions and developing a plan for you before we accept you as a client and provide an exact estimate of our rates.
This is because we only accept clients who can benefit from our services. Your responses to the following questions determine your charges:
- Do you qualify for a Green Card through a VAWA petition?
- Is there something in your past that can disqualify you?
- Can we fix that problem?
Since we concentrate on these topics, two clients that file for VAWA may have significantly different expenses. However, in general, the following is how we arrive at the immigration fees.
First and foremost, there is a charge for the application process. Depending on the circumstances and the complexity of the petition, we usually charge between $6,000 and $9,000 for the Green Card or the VAWA petition. VAWA is application form I-360, and we can also apply for your Green Card using form I-485 at the same time if you are eligible.
If you are in any of the following situations, you may be subject to additional charges:
- need to order documents from immigration through the FOIA process (7 agencies) for prior border contacts, deportations, or petitions
- need to order copies from criminal courts and a background search from the FBI (Estimated cost: $1,000 per person for FOIA and criminal background search)
- there is something that makes you ineligible, we then have to fix it through a waiver, reopening a criminal case, reopening a removal order, or refiling for relief (Estimated cost: $3,000 to over $15,000)
- applying for you and your kids. (Estimated cost: $500-$1,000 nominal fees to include your kids, but would depend on whether they are inside or outside the U.S.)
- your child or children need consular processing or require a waiver (additional fee)
If you are scheduled to meet with a representative from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), our immigration attorneys will charge you $1,500 for their participation. It is suggested that you bring an attorney with you to your interview because if your application is denied, you will be put into removal proceedings.
Furthermore, the petition costs $3,000-$6,000, including Form I-485 and any supporting forms and documentation. Each member of your family will require a separate application form. If you are filing for more than one member of your family, you may be eligible for a discount.
However, don’t allow the fees to stand in the way of you obtaining a green card. Andres Mejer Law offers a variety of payment options, including, but not limited to, discounts for those who pay in total upfront or for returning clients. Make an appointment with our office by calling (888) 695-6169 to discuss your payment alternatives.
How Long Does it Take to Get a VAWA Green Card?
USCIS is not given a deadline to reach a judgment on an application under U.S. immigration rules and regulations. VAWA cases based on a relationship to a U.S. citizen presently require between one and three years to process; however, processing timelines might vary.
We Can Help You Apply for a VAWA Green Card
Each case is different, so determine if you are eligible or which choice is best for you. The first step you should do is speak with a competent immigration attorney about your situation and how they can assist you in adequately navigating the procedure.
We’re here to support you and strive to correct your papers throughout this challenging period. Are you prepared to begin your VAWA application? Contact Andres Mejer Law immediately to speak with one of our skilled immigration lawyers.