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How to Avoid Denial of Your VAWA case

How to Avoid Denial of Your VAWA case

For those of you who have recently had your VAWA case denied or are afraid that your VAWA case could be denied. Our immigration attorney Ifeoma Odunlami is providing tips on how to avoid having a denial on your VAWA case.

Our immigration law firm is located in New Jersey. However, we work with clients locally, nationwide, and internationally who need assistance with their VAWA self-petition.

What is VAWA?

VAWA is a path to a green card for people who have an immediate relationship with a United States citizen or green card holder who has suffered abuse in that relationship. VAWA stands for Violence Against Women’s Act, and that name can be confusing because when you hear violence, you think it has to be something aggressive. However, VAWA does not require you to be physically abused to be able to apply for VAWA. There are different types of abuse. It can be emotional, psychological, verbal, or financial. Also, VAWA is not just for women. Men, children, step-children, parents, and the LGTBQ+ community can file a VAWA self-petition if they meet the requirements. 

How do you qualify for VAWA?

You can file for VAWA if you meet the following requirements.

  • The abuser is a United States citizen or green card holder.
  • You were a victim of abuse from your spouse or former spouse
  • You can prove that your marriage was a “bona fide marriage” or marriage of good faith.
  • Prove that you lived or did live with your abuser.
  • You can prove that you were a person of good moral character.
  • You are a parent of a United States Citizen (above the age of 21) and a victim of abuse. 
  • You are a child or step-child (21 years old or less) who has been abused. 

As mentioned above and it’s important to note that the abuse does not have to be physical. It can be emotional, psychological, verbal, sexual, or financial abuse. You do not have to have a police report or even hospital records. Most of the VAWA cases our immigration law firm works with do not have either, and we have successfully approved VAWA cases.

It is essential that you hire an experienced immigration attorney who is specialized in VAWA cases because it is a long process. You want to ensure you meet the requirements, have evidence, and avoid making common mistakes that could cause a denial.

The most common mistakes that cause your VAWA case to be denied

Below are discussed the most common mistakes that can cause your VAWA case to be denied. 

A Bona Fide Marriage, and that you are both qualified to marry

To apply for VAWA, you must prove that your marriage was a Bona Fide Marriage and show that both of you were qualified to marry. For example, if your American spouse was married before and didn’t get a proper divorce and then married you. In the United States, you are not allowed to be married to two people simultaneously. However, the good

news is that you can be approved as long as you, the beneficiary, can show that you didn’t know that this person was married before and wasn’t correctly divorced and that you had a proper ceremony. However, if you, the beneficiary were married before and didn’t get an adequate divorce, USCIS can deny your VAWA case. Subsequently, your marriage to a United States citizen or green card holder is considered void. 

If you have been divorced, the critical thing is that you need to make sure that your divorce decree is authentic.

If USCIS discovers a sham marriage. A sham is a permanent ban or a 204c, meaning individuals who have been discovered to engage in, attempted to or conspired to engage in marriage fraud.

Proof of living together.

Another reason VAWA cases have been denied is that the person still needs to provide proof of living with their United States spouse or green card holder. As mentioned above, this is a requirement to file for VAWA. You must show that you currently live or lived together at some point in a marital situation. A few examples of proof would be;

  • a lease with both your names on it
  • a landlord who is willing to write an affidavit saying you lived together 
  • Joint bills or letters coming to the same address
  • Driver’s license or I.D. with the same address 
  • Medical records with the same address 
  • Financial documents


Show evidence of being a couple.

USCIS wants to see that you not only have a Bona Fide Marriage and that you lived together but that you can prove that you had a real-life together. This evidence includes showing photos together and that you can tell stories about your photos. A good example would be photos of your dating, with family and friends, vacations, and even wedding photos.

Write a declaration or statement.

It is crucial for your petition that you can explain the kind of abuse you suffered. For example, with physical abuse you can show proof with photos, police reports, or hospital reports. However, VAWA is more than physical abuse. VAWA can also be shown if you suffered extreme cruelty.  Many people struggle with expressing themselves with regard to the emotional abuse or psychological abuse they have suffered, and that’s why it’s vital that in your Declaration that you tell your story and be specific with as much detail on the abuse entailed. Details include dates, times, what exactly happened, and how the abuse made you feel. You can also get an affidavit from a friend, family, or neighbor to help support the details of what happened.

Your Declaration is one of the most significant parts of filing your petition. Our immigration law firm has won VAWA cases based on the victim’s Declaration. An experienced lawyer can help you with your Declaration because, as a victim, sometimes it is hard to tell the story because of the trauma. It is something that you have to be in the right mindset to do and is something that might take little steps to complete. It would help if you had an expert to draw that story from you. 

Once you have completed your Declaration, sign it. Signing your Declaration is a crucial step to take. Getting a notary also goes for any affidavits you must include in your petition.

Getting remarried while your VAWA case is pending.

If you get married while your VAWA case Is still pending, your VAWA case will be denied. To USCIS, this means you’ve abandoned your case, your VAWA case.

Incorrect address.

It is essential that you have an experienced VAWA attorney look over all your evidence, help you with your Declaration and any affidavits, and ensure that you have completed all your forms correctly and that you have confirmed the valid address of your past and current addresses. As well as sending your VAWA case to the correct address, sending your VAWA case to the incorrect USCSI office can also cause your VAWA case to be denied. It is understandable a difficult time and overlooked simple mistakes such as the ones mentioned above do happen. 

We can help with your VAWA self-petition.

If you have any additional questions about VAWA or are looking for immigration services, don’t hesitate to contact the Odunlami Law Firm at 973-993-1900 or

Areas of Immigration Law:

  • Naturalization (Citizenship) Application
  • Immigrant Relative Petitions
  • Fiancé Visa Applications
  • Adjustment of Status and Consular Processing
  • Criminal Consequences and Deportation Defense
  • Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Application
  • Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
  • Green Card Renewals
  • Temporary Work Visas
  • Temporary Protected Status
  • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
  • Waivers
  • Deportation 


Schedule a consultation with an immigration attorney and get your case started today.
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