Navigating the visa process for permission to live and work in the United States can be extremely complicated and stressful. Perhaps you initially entered Colorado or another state with the assistance of a spouse or other family member who petitioned on your behalf. Someone you know (or perhaps yourself) may have been mistreated by someone they thought they could trust and relied on to help them seek an adjustment of status.
Sadly, domestic violence is a major problem in many towns throughout the nation.
This type of crime occurs in immigrant homes as well as homes of U.S. citizens. The difference is that when a victim of a violent crime, such as domestic assault, happens to be an immigrant, there may be options available to self-petition a green card, which is obviously not relevant to a U.S. citizen in similar circumstances.
Learn the facts on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
The federal government established the VAWA and amended it several times in subsequent years to include immigrants without documentation who are victims of violent crimes. The following information explains what protection under VAWA means for non-immigrants:
- If you are currently without legal papers to live or work in the United States, it is understandable you would hesitate to report a crime against you. However, under VAWA protection, you may be able to avoid deportation.
- Officials would not inform the perpetrator of domestic abuse or other violence against you about your self-petition for a green card under VAWA protection.
- As with most immigration processes, there are eligibility requirements you must satisfy before filing a self-petitioned green card application.
- If you are a battered spouse, you qualify for VAWA protection and application for a green card.
- You also qualify if you are the parent of an abused minor. You may apply for a green card, and you may include any children in your petition who are under the age of 21 who are unmarried.
- If domestic violence is not the issue but you were the victim of some other violent crime, you may still qualify for U-visa status if you agree to cooperate with police and prosecutors to secure the conviction of those who committed crimes.
The provisions that allow undocumented immigrants to self-petition green card are contained in the VAWA; however, members of either sex who meet the qualifications may apply.
Support is available
Taking the final steps to apply on your own behalf for a green card under VAWA protection can be a very scary and stressful experience. Many domestic violence victims in Colorado and elsewhere have gained tremendous support by turning to experienced immigration law attorneys as advocates.