Houston

Immigration Attorney

Battered Spouse, Children & Parents

As a battered spouse, child or parent, you may file an immigrant visa petition under the Violence against Women Act (VAWA). VAWA allows certain spouses, children and parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents (green card holders) to file a petition for themselves without the abusers’ knowledge. This will allow you to seek both safety and independence from the abuser. The provisions of VAWA apply equally to women and men. Your abuser will not be notified that you have filed for immigration benefits under VAWA.

Help is also available from the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TDD). The hotline has information about shelters, mental heath care, legal advice and other types of assistance, including information about filing for immigration status.

Those Eligible to File

  • Spouse: You may file for yourself if you are, or were, the abused spouse of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. You may also include on your petition your unmarried children who are under 21 if they have not filed for themselves.
  • Parent: You may file for yourself if you are the parent of a child who has been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse. You may include on your petition your children, including those who have not been abused, if they have not filed for themselves. You may also file if you are the parent of a U.S. citizen, and you have been abused by your U.S. citizen son or daughter.
  • Child: You may file for yourself if you are an abused child under 21, unmarried and have been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent. Your children may also be included on your petition. You may file for yourself as a child after age 21 but before age 25 if you can demonstrate that the abuse was the main reason for the delay in filing.

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Eligibility Requirements for a Spouse

  • 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, or
    • your spouse lost or renounced citizenship or permanent resident status within the 2 years prior to filing 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 been abused in the United States by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, or
    • have been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse abroad while your spouse was employed by the U.S. government or a member of the U.S. uniformed services, or
    • you are the parent of a child who has been subjected to abuse by your U.S. citizen or permanent 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.

Eligibility Requirements for a Child

  • You:
    • are the child of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident abuser or
    • were the child of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident abuser who lost citizenship or lawful permanent resident status due to an incident of domestic violence.
  • You:
    • have been abused in the United States by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent or
    • have been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent abroad while your parent was employed by the U.S. government or a member of the U.S. uniformed services.
    • You have resided with the abusive parent.
    • You have evidence to prove your relationship to your parent.
    • You must provide evidence of good moral character if you are over the age of 14.

Eligibility Requirements for a Parent

  • You are the parent of a U.S. citizen son or daughter or were the parent of a U.S. citizen son or daughter who lost or renounced citizenship status related to an incident of domestic violence or died within 2 years prior to filing.
  • You have been abused by your U.S. citizen son or daughter.
  • You have resided with the abusive son or daughter.
  • You are a person of good moral character.

Filing Process

  • You must complete the Form I-360, Petition for American, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, including all supporting documentation.
  • You must file the form with the Vermont Service Center (VSC).
  • If you meet all filing requirements, you will receive a notice (Prima Facie Determination Notice) valid for 150 days that you can present to government agencies that provide certain public benefits to certain victims of domestic violence.
  • If your Form I-360 is approved and you do not have legal immigration status in the United States, you may be placed in deferred action, which allows you to remain in the United States.
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