The Violence Against Women Act allows spouses and children of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to self-petition to obtain a green card. VAWA allows certain battered immigrants to self-petition without the abuser’s assistance. In order to qualify, an immigrant must have been battered or subject to extreme cruelty by the U.S. citizen or LPR spouse during the marriage or be the parent of a child who was battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by the U.S citizen or LPR spouse.
The Self-Petitioning Spouse
In order to qualify, an immigrant must be legally married to a U.S. citizen or LPR abusive spouse. A self-petition may be filed if the marriage was terminated by the abusive spouse’s death within two years prior to filing. A self-petition may also be filed if the marriage was terminated by divorce related to the abuse within two years prior to filing. The immigrant must have been battered or abused in the United States unless the abusive spouse is an employee of the United States government or a member of the uniformed services of the United States. The immigrant must have been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty during the marriage, or must be the parent of a child who was battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by the abusive spouse during the marriage. The self-petitioning spouse must be a person of good moral character. Finally, the self-petitioning spouse must have entered into the marriage in good faith, and not solely for the purpose of obtaining immigration benefits.
The Self-Petitioning Child
A self-petitioning child must qualify as the child of the abuser as “child” is defined in the Immigration and Nationality Act for immigration purposes. Any relevant credible evidence that can prove the relationship with the parent will be considered.