Ironically this Act is available to men as well as women. Although women usually are the victims, we have represented a few male spouses who have benefited from this law. One of our clients was constantly being threatened by his wife. If he didn’t do what she told him to do, she said she would report him to the immigration or poison him. On one occasion he overheard her talking on the phone with a friend that she was planning to murder him and discussing the ways to do it. He reported this to the police and as a result he obtained an order of protection. He applied under the VAWA Act and USCIS approved his application, and granted his permanent residence. In another of our cases, a wife not only frequently punched and hit our client, but she frequently physically assaulted their little children as well. He tried to intervene to protect the children but then she turned her wrath against him and assaulted him. He called the police and she was arrested, and later the District Attorney indicted her for these assaults, and she was sentenced to one year in jail. Our client received permanent residence as well as custody of the children.
The application for VAWA starts with a self-petition. The applicant must submit proof as police reports and affidavits from family or close friends and if possible a psychoanalyst attesting to the extreme mental or physical cruelty that the applicant suffered. To claim under this Act the abused spouse must have been harmed by a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident. A psychoanalytic report should indicate the physical or mental harm that resulted such as extreme anxieties, nightmares, depression, and sleeplessness. VAWA allows undocumented aliens to apply for this relief even if they entered the United States without papers.
WHAT IF THE ABUSER IS NOT A SPOUSE AND/OR THE ABUSER IS NOT A U.S CITIZEN OR PERMANENT RESIDENT?
If the abusing spouse is neither a U.S Citizen nor a permanent resident, and if the abuse occurred in the U.S., the abused spouse cannot derive an immigration benefit. The Act was created to help abused spouses of U.S. citizen or permanent resident to enable them to obtain legal benefits here.
If an abused spouse suffered abuse abroad, whether from a spouse, life partner, or significant other, and if the police and governmental authorities in that country offer no help for this abuse, if the abused spouse flees to the U.S., and requests political asylum, this application may be granted. Likewise homosexuals, lesbians, or transvestites who are abused in their country, and who flee here because of this, may receive a grant of asylum because in their country the police have failed and/or refused to protect them.
If you need help or advise, call us at 212-944-9420.