What is a VAWA Cancellation of Removal?
When an undocumented immigrant has been detained by ICE and winds up in immigration court removal proceedings, they may have a few legal options open to them. If the immigrant has faced physical, mental, or emotional abuse by a spouse, parent, child, or domestic partner who is a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident (LPR), they may be eligible for VAWA.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was created for victims of abuse in the immigration process. If an undocumented immigrant can prove they have been abused, they could be eligible for the VAWA cancellation of removal, by which an immigration judge can cancel their deportation and issue them a green card.
What is the Difference Between the Affirmative VAWA Application and the VAWA Cancellation of Removal?
The primary difference between a typical affirmative VAWA application and the VAWA cancellation of removal is that the cancellation of removal can only be called upon if you are in removal proceedings. Affirmative VAWA applications can be sought out of immigration court.
Children over the age of 21 who meet all other criteria may not be eligible for affirmative VAWA applications but could be eligible for VAWA cancellation of removal. Divorced spouses of citizens or LPRs may not all qualify for affirmative VAWA applications but may qualify for VAWA cancellation of removal.
Who is Eligible for VAWA Cancellation of Removal?
Though VAWA mentions women in its full name, the law is for all genders and age groups. Many men suffer abuse, either from the women in their lives, their parents, or same-sex partners, and are deserving of equal protections under the law.
To qualify for VAWA cancellation of removal, you must have:
- lived in the US for at least ten years.
- be of “good moral character”
- suffered abuse from a US citizen or an LPR
- no disqualifying criminal convictions
- family members who are US citizens or LPRs who will face extreme hardship in the event of your deportation
How to Prove That You Suffered Abuse?
It seems cruel to ask an abuse survivor to prove that they suffered abuse by a US citizen or an LPR, but the court does ask for some measure of proof. Without proving validity to your claims, the application for a VAWA cancellation of removal may fail, potentially ultimately resulting in your deportation.
Some examples of the best proof of abuse for the immigration judge include evidence relating to the abuse, such as:
- Arrests of the abuser
- Medical records after seeing a doctor for the abuse
- Police reports
- Restraining orders
- Therapist records after speaking of the abuse in therapy. Details relating to medication prescribed for depression and anxiety caused by the abuse can also be submitted.
- Time spent at a domestic violence shelter
- Video and photographic evidence
- Testimonies from family and other witnesses can also be called for in immigration court.