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Everything you need to know about the Violence Against Women’s Act in New Jersey

What is the Violence Against Women’s Act?

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) allows certain abused family members of U.S. citizens or permanent residents to petition on their own for a green card without the help of the abuser.  Too often the abuser will use his or her legal status to “control” the immigrant victim.  You should not have to stay in an abusive relationship only to hopefully acquire legal status.  With VAWA you can apply on your own. You will still need to document the validity of the relationship, and this can be challenging, but it is a self-petition.

So what are the benefits of the Violence Against Women Act?

I am glad you asked.  VAWA gives you the following:

  • Allows the victim to remain in the United States and eventually obtain lawful permanent residency (a “green card”).
  • Provides your work authorization document
  • You can then apply for a social security number
  • You can apply for a driver’s license
  • You can receive certain public benefits

What are the requirements for VAWA?

In order to qualify for VAWA, you must prove:

  1. Your qualifying relative who abused you is or was a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (see below for explanations of the relationships).
  2. You as the victim at some point lived with the abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident parent, in or out of the United States (depends on the relationship).
  3. You must be a person of good moral character.  This means it is more than just being convicted of a disqualifying crime.  This is a catch-all where under the totality of circumstances immigration doesn’t believe you are deserving of this benefit;
  4. The abuse must constitute battery or extreme cruelty which can include psychological or emotional abuse the abused family member needs not suffer physical abuse to be eligible.
  5. You must be admissible to the U.S.  The VAWA process is more forgiving than general adjustment of status, and even if you were convicted of certain crimes or entered the U.S. without permission you may still qualify.

What is a qualifying relationship for VAWA purposes?

You must generally prove one of the following relationships to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident:

  1. Spouse. To qualify as a spouse under immigration law the marriage must be legal and valid wherever the marriage took place;
  2. Child. To qualify as a child under immigration law, you generally have to be under 21 years of age and can’t be married. This includes step-child if the relationship started before your 18th birthday. It also includes adoption as long as the adoption was finalized before your 16th birthday and you were in your adoptive parent’s physical and legal custody for two years. If you were not abused, you can still get VAWA if your parent qualifies;
  3. parent of an abused child; or
  4. parent of an abusive child

NOTE: Despite the name, VAWA is not limited to women.  Both men and women can apply for VAWA.

Immigration and Violence Against Women Act attorney Andres Mejer have the experience and knowledge to help you with your Violence Against Women’s Act case. While there are areas of immigration law where you may not need an attorney, the Violence Against Women Act is not one of them.  It is very document-intensive and requires a lot of factual evidence. A bare-bones Violence Against Women Act application with little proof will be denied. If you believe you may qualify let Andres Mejer Law, help you file the best Violence Against Women Act application possible and increase your chances of getting it approved. Call us at 888-695-6169 today to learn how we can help you with this important process.

Andres Mejer Law helps individuals and families who need help with U.S. citizenship, legal residency, deportation, and other immigration issues in the Long Branch and Lakewood areas and across New Jersey.

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