Enacted in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) acknowledged the grave and unique challenges faced by women who have experienced domestic violence. Congress recognized the importance of providing legal remedies and protections to these vulnerable individuals, including those facing immigration-related obstacles. If you’re a victim of domestic violence and you’re worried about how it may impact your immigration status, please don’t hesitate to contact a skilled VAWA lawyer from Cohen & Patel today.
VAWA Lawyer | Here to Protect Victims of Violence in the U.S.
Choosing the right Montgomery County immigration lawyer can profoundly impact the outcome of your case. At Cohen & Patel, our seasoned attorneys combine a deep understanding of immigration law with a compassionate approach to each unique situation. We recognize the courage it takes to step forward, and we are dedicated to providing effective, individualized legal representation.
Battered Spouse Petitions
Battered spouse petitions are a pivotal component of VAWA, providing essential avenues for relief to non-citizen spouses who have been subjected to extreme cruelty or battery by their U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouses.
Defining ‘Extreme Cruelty’ and ‘Battery’
Within the context of VAWA, “battery” typically refers to acts of physical violence, ranging from slapping and pushing to more severe forms of assault. On the other hand, “extreme cruelty” encompasses both physical and psychological abuse. This can include, but is not limited to, threats, intimidation, forced isolation, financial control, and other forms of emotional manipulation.
To qualify for a battered spouse petition under VAWA:
- The petitioner must be currently married to, or recently divorced (within the last two years) from, an abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.
- The petitioner must have resided with the abusive spouse at some point.
- The petitioner must have been subjected to battery or extreme cruelty during the marriage.
- They should possess good moral character.
- The abuse must have occurred in the United States unless the abusive spouse is an employee of the U.S. government, a member of the uniformed services, or the abuse took place at the hands of a U.S. citizen.
Documentation and Evidence
Proving abuse can be one of the most challenging aspects of a VAWA self-petition. As such, a range of evidence can be submitted to strengthen the case, including:
- Medical records detailing injuries.
- Photographs of injuries.
- Police reports or restraining orders.
- Affidavits from friends, family, or neighbors who witnessed or were aware of the abuse.
- Counseling or therapy records.
- Letters from shelters or other organizations that assisted the victim.
Successful petitioners can expect several immediate benefits:
- Work Authorization: Once the VAWA self-petition is approved, petitioners can apply for a work permit, allowing them to work legally in the U.S.
- Deferred Action: While a VAWA self-petition is pending, it is possible to request a deferred action, which can provide temporary protection against deportation.
- Green Card Application: After the approval of a VAWA self-petition, the petitioner can typically apply for a green card, either immediately or once a visa number becomes available, depending on their marital relationship to the abuser.
Protection and Confidentiality
We fully understand the sensitivity of VAWA cases. Consequently, we emphasize utmost discretion, ensuring that all client interactions and documentation remain confidential. Furthermore, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is legally bound not to disclose any information about the petitioner to the abuser, safeguarding applicants throughout the process.
Contact a VAWA Lawyer Today
If you or someone you know is seeking legal protection under the Violence Against Women Act, don’t face the journey alone. An experienced VAWA lawyer here at Cohen & Patel is here to offer the guidance, support, and representation you need during this challenging time. Our firm proudly represents clients facing immigration matters throughout Pennsylvania, including in East Norriton, Norristown, Allentown, Lancaster, Bensalem, Easton, Levittown, Bethlehem, Erie, Mechanicsburg, Chester, Harrisburg, and more. Reach out to us today to discuss your situation and begin the process of seeking the security and peace you deserve.