VAWA Evidence Of Abuse: How To Put Together A Strong Case
I don’t know about you, but it’s getting harder to feel secure in the United States thanks to Trump’s crackdown on illegal and legal immigration. Today, we’ll talk about VAWA evidence of abuse and how to submit the strongest case possible to self-petition a green card.
Someone who is filing for VAWA is likely a relative of a U.S. citizen (spouse, parent or child) and has been abused by them. Thankfully, USCIS provides a path to permanent residence to those who are abused and controlled by their U.S. relative.
I’ve seen cases where immigrants are threaten with deportation, withdrawal of the I-864 affidavit or refusal to attend the green card interview.
All of the above scenarios could be considered a form of psychological abuse. If you are experience this type of treatment, be sure to document it as much as possible. You may need to use it as evidence of the abuse to successfully get VAWA approved.
Melanie arrived in the U.S. on a student visa and met her American husband in University. They quickly fell in love and applied for the I-130 and I-485 so that she could become a permanent resident.
After only 3 months of marriage, she realized that she made a mistake marrying her husband. He was very controlling and abusive towards her. Unfortunately, if their divorce is granted without the I-485 petition being approved, it’s likely that Melanie’s green card will be denied.
In the case above, Melanie should self-petition for her green card based on the abuse she suffered from her husband. She will need to submit evidence of the abuse as well as additional documentation to prove she is eligible for a green card.
Strong VAWA Evidence Of Abuse
It won’t be easy to submit a strong VAWA case but if you know what USCIS considers strong evidence, you have a better shot.
The reason it’s so tough to get VAWA approved is because there is a lot of immigration fraud that is committed by a small number of immigrants. Many people want to live and work in the U.S. and are willing to do just about anything to make that a reality.
This means that even people who are abused may be denied due to lack of evidence. Knowing what to submit is the first step in preparing strong VAWA evidence.
This is probably one of the most concrete evidence of abuse you can show. A police report will describe the incident when police were called to your home regarding the abuse.
You can request this report directly from the police department that answered the call. Even if you decide not to press charges, be sure to include the police report in your VAWA petition.
If you have filed a restraining order against your abusive spouse, it will show that you feared them in some way.
A judge granting you a restraining order means that you have proven that you feel your life is endangered and you require protection from this person.
Charging your spouse with battery or assault can mean a conviction in court with enough evidence. This is also really great evidence of VAWA abuse.
Be sure to pull all court records related to the abuse you’ve suffered. Although many immigrants will not have this type of evidence, it’s helpful if you do.
Abuse isn’t just physical. If you have suffered emotional or psychological abuse by your U.S. spouse, be sure to seek the help of a trained professional.
Gather the documentation for all of your sessions to include with your VAWA petition. During the sessions be as honest and open as possible about the abuse you suffered and how it affected you mentally.
Your own personal statement about the abuse you suffered may be considered strong if you provide enough detail. Although just including a personal statement with no other evidence wouldn’t be a good idea.
Hearing from you will help USCIS make their final decision on whether the abuse was substantial and ongoing.
Weak VAWA Evidence Of Abuse
Statements From Friends/Family
Statements from people around you who have witnessed the abuse can be good evidence. I consider this secondary evidence because these statements are from people who may have heard only your side of the story.
Even though this isn’t strong VAWA evidence, be sure to still include it. This can be statements from family, friends, church members, co-workers, and neighbors.
If you took any photos of your bruises or cuts on your body, get them printed out. This isn’t considered strong evidence because there is no proof that it was your spouse that actually causes those injuries.
The only way that this would be considered strong evidence is if the police took the photos on the night of the incident.
Including text messages and emails that sound angry and threatening is also good evidence. It’s likely that your spouse will not threaten you in writing but if they do, print it out and include it in your VAWA petition.
Be careful with recorded phone calls. There are many states that require the permission of the other person before you can record the conversation.
If you are claiming abuse based on financial reasons, you can submit bank or credit card statements. If you have no access to these because your spouse refuses to give you access to money, this is a form of control and you should include it in your statement.
Financial manipulation is not strong evidence of abuse but it can help paint a broader picture of the abuse to USCIS so it doesn’t hurt to include it.
How VAWA Processing Works
A VAWA petition is not going to get your a green card but it will allow you to have a basis to apply for one. Below is a list of forms, documents and evidence to submit to begin the VAWA processing:
- form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant
- statement describing your relationship with the abuser and the abuse you suffered
- police clearance records and/or other evidence to show you are a person of “good moral character”
- a copy of your passport or birth certificate
- proof that the abuser is a U.S. citizen or green card holder
- proof that you are the abuser’s spouse, child, or parent
- proof that you lived with the abuser
- proof that you suffered abuse, and
- proof that you currently live in the United States.
As you can see, the amount of evidence needed to include with the VAWA petition is large. This shouldn’t be taken lightly and it’s best to submit the best VAWA petition possible.
Final Thoughts On VAWA Evidence
All of the VAWA evidence outlined in this post should be included in your petition if possible. The cases that are promptly denied are usually ones that are not thorough.
Don’t rush putting together your VAWA case. Be sure to take the time to gather all of the evidence and documents because being denied the first time will really set you back and can flag you for deportation.
I know one woman who hired an immigration attorney for $5,000 and then sat back and did nothing else. Their attorney filed their VAWA petition but was sloppy and didn’t include very much strong evidence.
Her VAWA case was ultimately denied and she was placed in removal proceedings. She now has very little choices on what to do and will likely need to hire another attorney for upwards of $10,000 to help her avoid deportation to her home country of Ghana.
I tell you examples like this because you need to know the truth. This VAWA self-petition puts your life in the U.S. on the line and it’s important that you take it seriously.