Many people’s efforts to reach lawful permanent resident status or a green card in the United States are dependent upon a sponsor. Unfortunately, that dynamic can sometimes lead to a power imbalance between sponsor and immigrant that can get taken advantage of in a number of ways. One of the ways in which this can occur is through domestic abuse and violence.
Thankfully, the Violence Against Women Act was passed to address some of these inexcusable situations. Although many people in these circumstances don’t know it, there are protections available that will allow these victims to both find relief and protection from their abusers while not losing their immigration status.
At Steven T. Meier, PLLC, one of the most important things we can do is help people in these circumstances if possible. While some victims are aware of these protections on their own, many are not and are informed by friends, family, or others who reach out and help. Even if it doesn’t apply directly to you, knowing what the VAWA offers can often save someone from tremendous suffering.
While it’s named the Violence Against Women Act because women are disproportionately more likely to suffer domestic violence, the legislation does not apply only to women. The act provides protections for all victims of domestic violence and a host of issues beyond.
In particular, the act offers a means for immigrants who are dependent on their abuser for their immigration status the chance to break free of that dynamic and have their status honored in its own right. To qualify, the immigrant must be a victim of domestic violence or abuse, which does not necessarily mean only physical mistreatment. Emotional and psychological mistreatment are also forms of domestic abuse that are eligible for these protections.
Some of the more common forms of domestic violence and abuse include:
The end goal of the VAWA process is legal permanent residency status for the victims who apply. This generally involves a two-part process:
One of the major benefits of the VAWA application process is that it is completely confidential. This confidentiality is important for victims who may still be with their abuser. It can protect them from the risk of retaliation. To get approval for a VAWA application, victims of domestic abuse will need to present evidence of the abuse. Fortunately, there are a variety of things that may be submitted, including:
So much of immigration law is incredibly complex. It’s difficult to navigate the complex bureaucracies that seem to be involved in every situation. There’s also a ton of paperwork needing to be filled out and submitted at every turn. With the seriousness of VAWA situations, it is critical to have legal help. Therefore, the first thing that quality immigration lawyers, like those at Steven T. Meier, PLLC, can help with is to guide you through the process. Our experience working with all aspects of immigration law gives us firsthand knowledge of how to help you work through all the necessary steps.
We can also help with all that paperwork. Especially in VAWA cases, where it is critical that the domestic violence or abuse be clearly and persuasively described, the paperwork is critical to getting approval for an application. We understand from experience how the immigration offices will look at applications and what they are expecting to see. We can help you with both the preparation of the paperwork and the gathering of evidence for your situation. Handling these elements properly should help avoid any unnecessary delays and get your security sooner.
Given the nature of a VAWA case, we understand that what you may need from a lawyer is a little more than just help with paperwork and working with bureaucracies. We understand the sensitivity of these circumstances. We recognize how hard it is for victims of domestic violence and abuse to come forward under normal circumstances. That’s all the more challenging when someone has the legal status questions that VAWA applicants have. We understand that the prospect of what you’re dealing with must be frightening. That’s why, in addition to the legal help, it’s our goal to ensure that the process is as comfortable as we can possibly make it. We are here to help you.
Violence and domestic abuse against another person is never acceptable. It’s especially sad and infuriating when someone uses something like dependency on immigration status as a means of perpetuating the behavior without repercussions.
Thankfully, the law has addressed that situation. VAWA offers protection for those experiencing that kind of abuse. One of the issues, though, is that so many people in these circumstances are not necessarily aware of the protections that are available to them. That is why it is important that, if you or someone you know is in a situation where they are suffering from domestic violence and abuse, there is help available.
At Steven T. Meier, PLLC, we can help. We understand the sensitivity that these situations require while also understanding the legal protections available for these victims. If you or someone you know is facing this kind of situation, contact us today to discuss what can be done.
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