Undocumented Immigrant Victims: Battered Spouse, Children & Parents
An undocumented residents with no immigration status, who has been abused by a U.S. citizen or, in some cases, a permanent resident (green card holder), may file for an immigrant visa petition under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The INA was amended by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) to allow this special provision for these victims.
This petition can be filed without the citizen abuser’s knowledge. The purpose of this act is to allow victims to seek independence and safety from their abuser.
What is required to become a petitioner under VAWA?
There are different requirements for an abused spouse, parent or child.
A battered spouse can file:
- On their own behalf if they are (or were) the abused spouse of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident (green card holder);
- As a parent of an abused child if their child has been abused by their U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse;
A battered spouse may also include their unmarried children (under 21 years old) on their petition if the children have not filed for themselves.
A battered spouse must meet the following requirements:
- Petition candidate must show there is or was a qualifying spousal relationship to the U.S. citizen or permanent resident abuser by one of the following:
- Proof of marriage;
- Proof of termination of marriage by death or divorce;
- Abusive spouse lost or renounced their citizenship or permanent resident status due to an incident of domestic violence within 2 years prior to filing this petition; or
- Belief of marriage that was not legitimate solely due to bigamy of the abusive spouse.
- Petition candidate must show either:
- They suffered battery or extreme cruelty by their U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse; or
- Their child has suffered battery or extreme cruelty by their U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse.
- The marriage was entered into based on good faith and not solely for immigration purposes.
- Petition candidate lived with your abusive U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse.
- Petition candidate is a person of good moral character.