Turning hope
into reality.
Turning the page
to a better life.

SCHEDULE A CONSULTATION

Turning hope
into reality.
Turning the page
to a better life.

hero
hero

The Role of Confidentiality in VAWA Immigration Cases

Latest Articles

What Do I Do if I Am Being Abused?

It is an unfortunate fact that there are many battered and abused women and children in our society today. Sadly, many victims are those who stay with their abusers because of their immigration status. Perhaps you find yourself in this situation. If you are the victim of domestic violence or abuse from a parent or adult child and have been reluctant to report it because of your immigrant status, you have options.

At Chidolue Law Firm, we understand how strict the immigration system is and how frightening it is to a victim of domestic violence. You don’t have to suffer alone. You may qualify for assistance with the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The VAWA includes protections for immigrants or those who are victims of human trafficking to avoid deportation. You won’t have to worry about losing your chance at a green card if you leave your abuser. Call us at 407-871-3643 for a consultation.

How Does the VAWA Protect Immigrants?

In normal circumstances, the USCIS requires that US citizens and legal permanent residents file petitions for non-citizen family members who wish to gain citizenship. The fear is that some bad actors may use the immigration system as a tool to further torment and abuse their victims by threatening to withhold or withdraw the petition with the aim of coercion or intimidation.

With the passage of VAWA, congress provided humanitarian aid to non-citizens who their US citizen relatives have abused. The VAWA grants certain protections and allows non-citizens to apply for immigrant status without their abuser’s knowledge or consent in the petition process. Following these guidelines will enable victims to seek freedom and safety.

What are the Eligibility Requirements for VAWA Protection Status?

If you have been or are being abused by a US Citizen or green card holder relative, you are eligible and protected under the VAWA, regardless of gender. After your petition for VAWA status has been accepted, you can apply for permanent US resident status. 

The specific requirements you will need to meet to be eligible are: 

  • You must be a victim of domestic violence by a US citizen or permanent resident relative. The US law states that you must prove that the abuse you were subjected to exposed you to extreme cruelty. You may still apply, even if the abuse began before your abuser was a citizen or if they have since lost their status.
  • You must have lived with your abuser at some point
  • Unless you are in the armed forces or you are living with your abuser who is stationed abroad for service or an employee of the US government stationed abroad, you must be living in the US 
  • The marriage must be valid and have been entered into in good faith. You must prove that you did not marry only to obtain a green card 
  • You are of honest character
  • You don’t face any bars to adjustment of status like a criminal background. Keep in mind that the USCIS shows more empathy and leniency toward VAWA applicants due to the circumstances of their applications, so you may be eligible for waivers if you face some bar toward status adjustment. Your immigration attorney can advise you of options that are available to you

How Do I Prove My VAWA Case?

Proving your case to the USCIS can feel overwhelming. However, you don’t have to face it alone. The compassionate and empathetic legal team of The Chidolue Law Firm is on your side. We have the experience and understanding of the complex USCIS system to guide you. We know it is frightening. We’re on your team. 

To prove your eligibility, you must: 

  • File form I-360
  • File supporting evidence of the abuser’s status, proof of your residency, evidence of your relationship, and proof of abuse (police reports, photos, witness statements)
  • You should include a thoughtful, well-laid-out statement of your perception of the abuse throughout the relationship. USCIS considers all types of abuse: physical, emotional, sexual, and mental, along with threats of withholding the petition for a green card or deportation

Is My Information Confidential?

You may worry that your abuser will find out you have applied for your petition. Many battered people are fearful of leaving their situation or reporting it because they are afraid that if they do, the abuser will be notified, and the abuse will get worse. Under US Section 384, it became illegal for USCIS to share any of your information without your express written permission unless a court of law orders it.

What Information Does the Confidentiality Provision Cover?

The confidentiality provision of the VAWA states that “Grantees and Subgrantees may not disclose, reveal, or release personally identifying information or individual information collected in connection with services requested, utilized or denied through grantees and subgrantees programs, regardless of whether the information has been encoded, encrypted, hashed or otherwise protected.” In the case of the VAWA, personally identifying information has been expanded to include your physical location to protect stalking victims from their attackers.

How Can An Immigration Lawyer Help Me?

We understand you are scared and may feel there is nowhere to turn. You may have been told you are alone on this journey and that no one will help you, but you mustn’t believe that. At The Chidolue Law Firm, our compassionate and dedicated legal team is on your side from day one. You deserve a life free from fear. Call us today at 407-871-3643

Related Articles