VAWA

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) provides for several protections for battered alien spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizens or permanent residents. In certain cases, the spouse or child of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident may file a VAWA self-petition for permanent resident status. Under more limited circumstances, the battered parent of a U.S. citizen may file a VAWA self-petition. Certain battered spouses and children may seek VAWA cancellation of removal as a defense from removal. In limited cases, the battered spouse of certain nonimmigrants in derivative status may be eligible to apply for employment authorization under VAWA. An individual who believes that he or she may be eligible for relief under VAWA should consult with an experienced immigration attorney.

VAWA Confidentiality Provisions

In 2006, President George W. Bush signed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005, Pub. L. 109-162, 119 Stat. 2960 (2006) into law. Among other things, the statute directed the Attorney General, the Secretary of State, and the Director of Homeland Security to provide guidance to employees of their respective departments regarding policies to protect information relating to victims of domestic violence and severe forms of trafficking in persons or criminal activity. In this article, we will examine the DHS’s policies regarding the protection of information of applicants for protection under VAWA or VAWA beneficiaries and the procedures for seeking relief if these policies are violated.

VAWA Self-Petitioning for Battered Children

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) contains provisions for allowing children who have been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) parent to self-petition for LPR status. In this article, we will discuss the eligibility requirements for filing a Form I-360 as a VAWA self-petitioning child.

VAWA Self-Petitioning for Battered Parents

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) allows the parent of an adult U.S. citizen to file a Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petition for permanent resident status if he or she resided with his or her U.S. citizen son or daughter and was subject to battery or extreme cruelty by the son or daughter. In this article, we will use the relevant statutes, regulations, and agency guidance to examine the rules for filing a VAWA self-petition as the battered parent of a U.S. citizen.

Adjustment of Status off Approved Form I-360 as VAWA Self-Petitioner

An alien with an approved Form I-360 Petition as a VAWA self-petitioner may apply for adjustment of status when his or her priority date is current. VAWA self-petitioners are exempt from the prohibition against adjustment of status based on entry without inspection (EWI) and the bars to adjustment listed in section 245(c) of the INA. Furthermore, the VAWA beneficiary may apply for naturalization after three years of permanent residency instead of five. In this article, we will explain priority dates in the VAWA adjustment of status context, employment authorization with an approved Form I-360, the exemptions from certain bars to adjustment of status for VAWA self-petitioners, and the shorter naturalization period.

VAWA Self-Petitioning for Battered Spouses

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) allows for the alien spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) to file a Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petition for permanent resident status if he or she or his or her child was battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by the U.S. citizen or LPR spouse. In this article, we will discuss the eligibility requirements for filing a Form I-360 VAWA self-petition as an abused spouse or on behalf of an abused child.

Violence Against Women Act

Domestic violence often includes sexual assault, child abuse and other violent and dangerous crimes against victim’s person. It also may incorporate intimidation and subjugation and may cause serious mental injury to the victim.  U.S. federal law and that of many states consider any type of sexual activity imposed without consent on another person as sexual assault. Being married to the victim does not absolve the abuser of liability for sexual assault, not does it diminish the harm such activity may and more often than not does cause.

Waivers for Fraud or Willful Misrepresentation of a Material Fact to Obtain an Immigration Benefit

If an alien is caught using fraud or willful misrepresentation of a material fact to procure an immigration benefit, he or she will be deemed inadmissible to the United States. This ground of inadmissibility is particularly severe because it attaches to an alien for life. In very limited circumstances, there are waivers available for inadmissibility stemming from fraud or willful misrepresentation of a material fact. This article will explain the reasons why these waivers exist, the scenarios in which an alien inadmissible for fraud or misrepresentation may be able to obtain a waiver, and general guidance on the waiver adjudication process.

Matter of L-S-M- (Adopted Decision): U Visa AOS Applicants Subject to AOS Eligibility Based on Violating Order of VD

On May 13, 2016, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a Policy Memo designating as an adopted decision the Administrative Appeals Office decision in the Matter of L-S-M-, Adopted Decision 2016-03 (AAO Feb. 23, 2016). The Matter of L-S-M- held that “the exemption to civil penalties for failure to comply with an order of voluntary departure, available for certain victims of domestic violence or related abuse, does not extend to [U1] nonimmigrant victims of qualifying activity.” However, in accordance with the Matter of Zmijewska, 24 I&N Dec. 87 (BIA 2007) civil penalties for the failure to comply with an order of voluntary departure will not apply if the failure to comply with an order of voluntary departure was not voluntary. In this article, we will review the facts of the Matter of L-S-M-, the underlying statutes, and its effect going forward now that the USCIS has designated it as an adopted decision.

Permanent Bar - overview

In addition to the 3 and 10-year bars of inadmissibility for accruing unlawful presence in the United States, there is a more stringent bar of inadmissibility stemming from unlawful presence that is commonly called the “permanent bar.” The permanent bar of inadmissibility stems from accruing at least one year of unlawful presence in the United States and then subsequently attempting to reenter or reentering the United States without inspection. As its name suggests, the permanent bar is a far more daunting bar to inadmissibility than the 3 or 10-year bars.

Special Rule Cancellation of Removal for Battered Spouses and Children

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) contains special rules for cancellation of removal for non-lawful permanent resident (LPR) spouses or children of U.S. citizens (USCs) or LPRs who were subject to battery or extreme cruelty by the USC or LPR spouse or parent. The eligibility requirements for special rule cancellation for battered spouses and children are more lenient than for regular cancellation, making obtaining cancellation of removal generally easier for battered spouses and children of USCs and non-LPRs than for other non-LPRs. This article will explain the eligibility requirements for special rule cancellation for battered spouses and children, where they differ from the general rules for non-LPR cancellation, and advice for applying.