Ozment Law, PLC Is Proud To Help Society’s Most Vulnerable
We Represent Victims Of Crimes, Victims Of Domestic Abuse And Children
We are proud to help victims of crime, domestic abuse and children obtain legal status in the United States. If you need immigration status and have been a victim of a crime, have been abused by a parent, child, or spouse, or are the loved one of a child who has been abused, neglected, abandoned by his or her parents, or sent to the United States alone, schedule a consultation with us today to find out if Ozment Law, PLC can help you find a pathway to permanent residence (a green card) — and maybe even citizenship.
At Ozment Law, PLC, we are committed to supporting and advocating for victims of violence, especially men and women facing challenging circumstances. If you have been a victim of abuse by a U.S.-citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse, parent, or child, there are laws that can help you gain legal immigration status in the United States. Of all of these, the Violence Against Women Act is one of the most important.
What is the Violence Against Women Act?
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is intended to help victims of domestic abuse, and it provides many protections for individuals who have not yet obtained legal immigration status in the United States. Despite its name, the VAWA also protects children, men, and parents who are or who have been victims of domestic violence or domestic abuse.
Enacted in 1994, VAWA was a landmark piece of legislation aimed at combating domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. It provides resources for victims and seeks to hold perpetrators accountable. One of its significant provisions is the creation of immigration remedies for victims who are spouses, children, or parents of abusive U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.
VAWA allows eligible immigrants who have suffered abuse at the hands of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident family member to self-petition for lawful status in the United States. This means that victims can independently seek legal status without the abuser’s involvement or knowledge. Additionally, VAWA provisions offer confidentiality protections to ensure the safety of the survivor.
In many cases, lawful permanent residents and citizens of the United States can petition for their immediate relatives to obtain legal status. Sadly, abusers sometimes refuse to help their victims with their immigration status, or they promise to help but need to follow through. Worse yet, they sometimes threaten to report their victims to the immigration authorities. The VAWA allows people to self-petition, so they do not have to rely on the help of their abuser. In other words, your abusive spouse or child does NOT have to cooperate in the immigration process — and in fact, there are strict confidentiality procedures in place to prevent them from learning about the VAWA application process.
How to Petition for Legal Status Under the VAWA
If you are a victim of abuse and your abuser holds a green card or is a citizen, you can use Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant to apply for benefits under VAWA. When filing this form, you must meet certain requirements and submit strong evidence. The requirements for spouses are as follows:
- You must be legally married to a permanent lawful resident or a citizen of the United States, or you must have believed you were legally married to them. If you are divorced, the divorce must have been finalized no more than two years before the application.
- You or your child must have been abused (subjected to battery or “extreme cruelty”) by your permanent lawful resident or U.S. citizen spouse.
- You got married in good faith, meaning you did not marry strictly for immigration purposes.
- You have good moral character, which typically means you have not violated the law or been convicted of a serious crime.
If you are a child and want to self-petition after a parent has abused you, the requirements are as follows:
- You are a child of a lawful permanent resident or United States citizen.
- Your permanent resident or U.S. citizen parent abused you.
- You have lived with your abuser.
- You have good moral character.
You can also self-petition if your child has abused you. The requirements to do this are as follows:
- You are the parent of a United States citizen who is at least 21 years old at the time you submit your petition.
- Your child has abused you.
- You have lived with your abuser child at some point.
- You have good moral character.
Key Points of VAWA for Immigration Purposes:
- Self-Petitioning: Under VAWA, eligible individuals can file a self-petition (Form I-360) to seek legal status independent of their abuser.
- Credible Evidence: Applicants need to provide evidence that they have been subjected to abuse, which can include police reports, medical records, affidavits, and other supporting documentation.
- Confidentiality Protections: VAWA safeguards the privacy of survivors throughout the immigration process, allowing them to seek relief without fear of the abuser’s interference.
- Access to Benefits: Successful applicants may be eligible for work authorization and certain public benefits.
Evidence When Self-Petitioning
There are many types of evidence you need when self-petitioning. At Ozment Law, PLC, we have dedicated case managers to handle VAWA cases. These case managers work alongside our attorneys to assist in the collection of evidence and making the VAWA case as strong as possible. However, some of the most common requested evidence includes:
- Your marriage certificate
- You and/or your child’s birth certificate
- Evidence that you lived with your abuser, such as bills, lease agreements, letters, mail, and tax returns
- Evidence of the abuse, such as police reports, protection orders, statements from others, and medical records
- Evidence that you are of good moral character, usually proven through a background check our attorneys can help arrange
- A required, written statement outlining your relationship with your abuser, which our attorneys will assist with.
Collecting evidence is not always easy or safe. An immigration lawyer can help you obtain the necessary evidence safely. Sometimes there is no written evidence of abuse. It is not required that the victim call the police on their abuser. It may be possible to obtain VAWA relief based only on witness and victim statements.
While the U visa is often an excellent option for victims of domestic violence, if the abuser is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, it may be better to obtain legal status through VAWA instead, since VAWA applicants typically receive their permanent residence faster. While the U visa requires the applicant to have called the police and cooperate in the investigation or prosecution of a crime, VAWA does not require that the police ever be called. Our attorneys can help assess whether a U visa or VAWA application would be better, depending on the specifics of each case.
The evidence requirements for VAWA are different from other kinds of immigration petitions or applications. It is important to consult with an attorney to construct the best plan for obtaining the best possible evidence to support a VAWA application.
The approval of a VAWA petition for an abused spouse, child, or parent of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident may allow the immigrant to file for adjustment of status—permanent residence inside the United States. While many people who entered the United States illegally will have to obtain their permanent residence through a U.S. embassy or consulate outside the United States, immigrants who are granted VAWA are able to apply for their permanent residence inside the United States, without having to depart.
Moreover, the immigration service often issues a “prima facie determination” letter after officers determine that the VAWA application states an approvable claim. The prima facie determination is issued while the immigrant waits for the petition to be officially approved and may allow the immigrant to obtain certain government benefits earmarked for VAWA applicants.
How We Can Help
Navigating the legal intricacies of VAWA can be complex and emotionally challenging. Our compassionate legal team at Ozment Law, PLC, understands the sensitivity of these cases and is dedicated to providing support, guidance, and experienced representation to survivors seeking relief under VAWA. Our attorneys have filed successful VAWA applications for many victims, regardless of gender.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence or abuse and needs legal assistance to explore options under VAWA, please contact us. Our team is here to listen, offer advice, and help you take the necessary steps towards safety and security.
Immigration Relief For Vulnerable Children
Permanent residency (a green card) and a pathway to citizenship is available to some foreign-born children living in the United States who have been abused, abandoned or neglected. Children sent by themselves to live in the United States may also qualify. Ozment Law, PLC is pleased to help these children obtain Special Immigrant Juvenile Status in the United States and the many benefits that come with it.
These children should act quickly, because there is a limited amount of time to take advantage of immigration benefits for abused, abandoned and neglected children.
At Ozment Law, PLC, we are committed to fighting for justice and supporting survivors of violence through the legal avenues available. Your safety and well-being matter, and we are here to stand by you. Call us for a confidential consultation at (615) 321-8888. Hablamos español.