In the past, a green card applicant who was being sponsored by an abusive spouse had very few options when it came to staying or leaving the relationship. Leaving could mean having the green card application rejected. However, changes in the law offer an alternative to staying in an abusive relationship. If you are in an abusive relationship with your green card sponsor, here is what you need to know.
Can You Self-Petition for a Green Card?
Green cards typically require a sponsor, such as a family member or employer. However, the Violence Against Women Act allows men or women who are being abused by their sponsor to self-petition for a green card. In essence, if you are being abused, you can apply for a green card without the need for a sponsor.
In order to quality for the green card, you have to prove that you are married to a United States citizen and that he or she is being abusive towards you. You can also apply for the green card if your spouse is a permanent resident.
In addition to proving these requirements, you also have to prove that you have good moral character. A criminal background that would normally render you inadmissible to the country could lead to a denial of your green card. Crimes that could lead to a rejection include those which are drug-related, prostitution, aggravated assault, and murder.
How Do You Prove Your Claims?
To prove your marriage to your spouse, you can rely on your marriage certificate, joint tax returns, and even family pictures.
You also have to prove the abuse. If you have police reports, a restraining order, or any other documentation from a legal entity that documents the abuse you suffered, provide it to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services agency. If you have any witnesses who are willing to provide testimony, their words could also be helpful.
As part of the application process, you will need to write a detailed report of the abuse you suffered. Provide as much information as possible to help the USCIS make a decision. Include dates, locations, and note the injuries you received. If there were witnesses to the incident, include their names and contact information.
You do not have to live with an abuser just to remain in the country. The law has provided a pathway to legal residence that offers a chance to live without abuse. Consult with an immigration attorney, such as Tesoroni & Leroy, to learn more about self-petitioning for a green card.