What is VAWA, and how does it work for parents?
VAWA or the Violence Against Women Act offers protections and allows victims of domestic violence or spousal abuse to “self-petition” to obtain a green card without the cooperation of the U.S. citizen or permanent resident relative who is abusing them. VAWA does apply to both women and men, children, and parents of U.S. citizens.
Under the VAWA act, you may file for VAWA if you are the parent of a U.S. citizen, and you have been abused by your U.S. citizen son or daughter.
How do parents of U.S. citizens qualify for VAWA?
For the parents of a U.S. citizen to qualify for VAWA you must meet the following requirements;
You have suffered abuse or extreme cruelty by your U.S. citizen son or daughter.
You have suffered abuse or extreme cruelty by your U.S. citizen son or daughter, and you have lived or do live with them.
Your son or daughter is a least 21 years of age when filing for self-petition
Your U.S. citizen son or daughter who lost or renounced citizenship status related to an incident of domestic violence
You’re the parent of a U.S. citizen son or daughter who was at least 21 years of age and who had died within the two years prior to filing for VAWA.
You, yourself are a person of good moral character
What is the process of filing for VAWA for parents of U.S. Citizens?
You will also be required to provide the following;
Strong evidence of abuse (police report, protective orders, photos medical records, etc) (if applicable)
A Personal Declaration Letter which describes in detail the abuse or neglect (if applicable)
Affidavits of witness to the battery or extreme cruelty
Identifying documents including birth certificate, passport, driver’s license, immigration documents proving your identity and current status
The immigration status of the citizen son or daughter
Proof of residence with the abusive family member (lease, utility bills, a letter from your landlord.)
Proof that you live in the United States
Your good moral character (letters of recommendation, awards, etc)
How long does it take for VAWA to be approved?
After you have submitted your VAWA application, it could take up to 21 months to process and approve your VAWA case. As you wait you will need to look out for the following documents as you await USCIS approval of your application.
Your “Prima Facie Approval” letter will entitle you to basic public assistance. This letter is good for 150 days while you wait for your approval This does not mean that your application has been approved but it is a good sign
A letter to send in additional documentation or proof. You will have 60 days to respond
An approval letter for your self-petition. if you haven’t yet filed your Form I-485 (for your green card or lawful permanent residence), you should do so now.
Or unfortunately a denial letter
What benefits are included in VAWA?
After you have received your “Prima Facie Approval” letter, you may be entitled to public assistance, including the following.
Medicare or Medicaid
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
It is understandable that this can be a difficult and overwhelming time. However, while you are waiting for your VAWA approval there are a few things you may want to do;
Once you receive your “Prima Facie Approval” letter start applying for services you need
Your immigration lawyer can help you figure out your rights and to help you file for any services you may need
Apply for a job once you receive your work permit. Being able to support yourself and get a job during this process is empowering
You may want to look for a support group
At this time, you should not be living with your son or daughter
If you haven’t already, speak to an immigration lawyer to find out your rights and to help you file
Although you may want to travel abroad to visit family and friends it is highly advised to not travel outside of the United States.
Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for additional support and services
Read more about VAWA;
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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