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Documenting Abuse for a VAWA Self-Petition

Documenting Abuse for a VAWA Self-Petition

PUBLISHED ON: January 25

Those who wish to obtain a family-based green card typically must have a spouse or parent as a sponsor. In some cases, a victim of abuse might not have that choice. In those cases, it may be possible for the victim of abuse to obtain lawful permanent residence (green card) without assistance from a spouse or parent. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is legislation that provides immigration help for those who are victims of violence. The VAWA allows a victim of violence a path to seek a visa without a sponsor. An experienced immigration attorney in Chicago will help you with the process. 

VAWA Immigration Process

The immigration process begins with an application. You have likely already applied for a green card with your spouse or other relatives as your sponsor. If removal proceedings have not yet begun, you will need to file a VAWA Green Card Petition (Form I-360), or you may need to file Form I-751 (Petition to Remove Conditions). The VAWA Green Card Petition is for a spouse, parent, or child who is a victim of abuse by the sponsoring relative of their family visa. The I-360 allows you to apply for a special immigrant visa. The VAWA petition applies to those who are spouses, parents, or children of an abusive petitioner. 

Types of Abuse

There are different kinds of abuse. Physical abuse occurs when someone hurts another person. Other types of abuse are threats or intimidation, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, harassment, and financial abuse, among others. Abuse is never allowed, but it can create a difficult situation when the abuse is occurring by the person sponsoring your immigration visa. It is important to know that the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) allows you to continue the visa process without the need for a sponsor if that person is abusive. 

How to Prove Abuse

To seek a green card with a self-petition when you have suffered abuse, you must be able to prove that abuse occurred. Abuse may have been directed toward you or your children. Evidence of abuse is necessary as part of the VAWA green card process. Some ways to prove abuse include:

  • Statement from the victim
  • Doctor reports
  • Medical records
  • Counselor or social worker records
  • Affidavits from professionals involved in treatment
  • Affidavits from those who observed abuse or the results of abuse
  • Records from domestic violence shelters
  • Photos of the injuries
  • Copies of restraining orders obtained
  • Photos of damages caused by the abuser

It is necessary to gather as much documentation as possible to prove your abuse. Your immigration attorney will assist you in determining the types of records that you should obtain to submit with your request. 

If you are being sponsored for a visa and are the victim of abuse, it is best to seek assistance as soon as possible. Take immediate steps to protect your safety and the safety of your children. As soon as you are safe, contact a knowledgeable immigration attorney for guidance with your VAWA immigration petition. To learn more about the VAWA self-petition, call our immigration lawyers today at Sverdloff Law Group at (312) 238-9090. 


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