Do You Qualify for a VAWA Self-Petition in the United States?
Do you want to self-petition under VAWA? If so, it is important that you know the qualifications. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services defines an abuser as “someone who has committed one of the following crimes against their spouse or child: murder, kidnapping, sexual assault or rape, abuse, neglect or abandonment (if this conduct results in physical injury), false imprisonment; stalking; female genital mutilation; incestuous marriage; voluntary manslaughter (if this crime results in death); felony assault resulting in substantial bodily harm if it was done with intent to injure another person seriously and permanently by reason of their race, color religion or national origin.”
Who Is Eligible For A Petition?
Spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizens and certain spouses and children of permanent residents (Green Card holders) to file a petition for themselves, without the abuser’s knowledge. This allows victims to seek both safety and independence from their abuser, who is not notified about the filing. It is important to know that both MEN and WOMEN can file for VAWA.
- Qualifying spousal relationship:
- You are married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident abuser or
- your marriage to the abuser was terminated by death or a divorce (related to the abuse) within the 2 years prior to filing your petition, or
- your spouse lost or renounced citizenship or permanent resident status within the 2 years prior to filing your petition due to an incident of domestic violence, or
- you believed that you were legally married to your abusive U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse but the marriage was not legitimate solely because of the bigamy of your abusive spouse.
- You have suffered battery/extreme cruelty by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse:
- You have been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, or
- your child has been subjected to battery or extreme cruelty by your U.S. or permanent resident spouse.
- You entered into the marriage in good faith, not solely for immigration benefits.
- You have resided with your spouse.
- You are a person of good moral character.
What Is Considered "Abuse"?
In order to qualify for a VAWA petition under these qualifications, it is important to note that the abuse occurred in the United States and between yourself and the abuser. Domestic violence or “abuse” is a pattern of behavior that is used by one’s partner or family member in order to gain or maintain power over the victim.
Abuse can be committed in many different ways. What may seem normal to some cultures or demographics is still considered abusive behavior and it is important to recognize that abuse comes in many forms. Battery can include smacking, kicking, or punching, as well as shoving, pushing, hair pulling, pinching, smacking, biting, and rape.