Abused spouse self-petitions
An abused spouse or child of a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident can file a “self-petition” under the Violence against Women Act (VAWA). Abuse means the person was subjected to battery or extreme mental cruelty. In most instances, approval of such a petition will result in the person being eligible for adjustment of status. This even applies for people who entered the United States without inspection.
VAWA allows certain spouses, children and parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents (green card holders) to file a petition for themselves without the abusers’ knowledge. This will allow you to seek both safety and independence from the abuser. The provisions of VAWA apply equally to women and men. Your abuser will not be notified that you have filed for immigration benefits under VAWA.
Help is also available from the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TDD). The hotline has information about shelters, mental heath care, legal advice and other types of assistance, including information about filing for immigration status.
At Helmer, Conley, & Kasselman, PA, our immigration attorneys in New Jersey have successfully represented many self-petitioners. We can help if you have been the victim of domestic violence or extreme mental cruelty by a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, parent, or stepparent.