Being a victim of domestic abuse is tough enough. What happens when you’re a foreign national being abused by an American citizen? While you may be afraid of losing the possibility of citizenship, you shouldn’t be. As an abused spouse, you have options to receive a green card without the help of your abuser by contacting a green card attorney in Salt Lake City.
If you’re a battered spouse, parent, or child of a U.S. Citizen, you can self-petition for an immigrant visa based on the Violence Against Women Act amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act. Your abuser doesn’t need to know you applied, and if your petition is approved, you might be able to file for a green card on your own.
How Does It Work?
As the spouse of a United States citizen, if you are a victim of emotional, physical, or verbal abuse, you may be eligible to apply for your green card without your spouse by filing an I-360 petition under the Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA. Once that’s been approved, you will be allowed to file for permanent residency. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a man or a woman. The VAWA petition is available for abused spouses regardless of gender.
Often in a marriage between a U.S. Citizen and a foreign national, the couple will start the adjustment of status process to make the foreign spouse a permanent resident. Or, they may start consular processing if the beneficiary still lives abroad. When a marriage becomes abusive, it may lead to a separation before the green card process is finished.
Because the victims are afraid of interfering with their immigration status, they will sometimes stay in the relationship despite the abuse, but you should know there’s help available. United States law enforcement will always be on your side and with proper documentation, you can achieve citizenship on your own with the help of a green card attorney in Salt Lake City.
If you’ve started the process to receive your green card or have filed the I-130 petition, you can leave the marriage without penalty. Simply ask your immigration officer to hold your adjustment of status petition in abeyance while you wait for your I-360 petition to be approved.
Who Is Eligible?
To be eligible for citizenship under the I-130 petition, you must meet three requirements. The first is that your marriage must be bona fide. You cannot have entered into it simply to obtain a green card. Second, you must have suffered mental, emotional, or physical abuse at the hands of your spouse, and you must have evidence in the form of psychological evaluations, police reports, or affidavits from friends or other witnesses. Lastly, you must have good moral character, with a history of no criminal convictions.
You may file an I-360 petition in the following situations: if you’ve been abused or suffered extreme cruelty by a U.S. citizen parent, a U.S. citizen former or current spouse, a U.S. citizen daughter or son, a lawful permanent resident parent, or a lawful permanent resident current or former spouse.
If you’re being abused in a relationship with a U.S. citizen or lawful resident, you have programs available to you that could help. By filing a self-petition for the I-360 application, you can obtain a green card under the VAWA program no matter your gender. Don’t be afraid to leave your spouse and live a better life. When you’re ready, contact a green card attorney in Salt Lake City at Familia America Immigration. We’ll help guide you towards a brighter tomorrow.