Deportation Defense: How the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Could Help
No one should ever have to endure being the victim of physical or emotional abuse. However, so many women, men, and children are expected to endure these cruelties in secret and without protest, fearing that speaking out could result in harsh consequences for them and for their loved ones. Individuals going through the immigration process can be especially vulnerable, with abusive sponsors using the process to keep them silent.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) can benefit female immigrants who have been abused by US citizens and lawful permanent residents. Under this law, the immigrant can petition for themselves, taking the immigration process out of the hands of their abusers.
For abuse survivors who are facing removal, whether because of something their sponsor said in retaliation or for other unrelated reasons, applying for VAWA could be a useful deportation defense.
What is the VAWA Cancellation of Removal?
After an immigrant has been put in immigration court removal proceedings, they may be eligible for relief via the VAWA cancellation of removal. A successful VAWA cancellation of removal results in receiving your green card and being allowed to stay in the US.
To qualify for VAWA cancellation of removal, a female immigrant must:
- have suffered battery, extreme cruelty, domestic violence, or domestic abuse committed by a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the US who is a spouse, domestic partner, parent, or child.
- have been in the US for three years, at least, and maintained “good moral character” over that period of time.
- prove that their removal would cause extreme hardship for them and, potentially, others.
What Proof is Needed to Apply for VAWA?
An immigration judge will make the ultimate determination as to whether you could secure protections under VAWA based on the strength of your case. The more evidence you have which can support your claims, the better.
Proof that could help you successfully apply for VAWA includes:
- Proof of your identity.
- Proof of the abuser’s legal status in the US.
- Personal declarations detailing what you have endured and what hardships you may face if deported.
- Any available police records that back up claims of abuse and cruelty.
- Proof of abuse.
- And proof that the immigrant has lived in the US for at least three years.
Are You Protected from Being Deported While Your VAWA Self Petition is Pending?
Pending status is not the same thing as lawful status. There is no guarantee that you will not be deported while your VAWA status is being reviewed and is in a pending stage. If you are eligible for VAWA, it is vital that you apply without delay.
If your application is still pending, your immigration attorney could ask the court to delay removal proceedings on account of the pending self-petition. Please contact a lawyer to discuss your case today at 510-488-1020.