Abused Spouses of Citizens or Permanent Residents

Violence Against Women Act

Generally, U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents file an visa petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on behalf of a spouse or child. Unfortunately, some U.S. citizens and LPRs misuse their control of this process to abuse their family members, and threatening to deport them. Most battered immigrants are afraid to report the abuse to the police or other authorities.

Under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA 1994), certain spouses and children of United States citizens or permanent residents may self-petition to obtain lawful permanent residency.

VAWA allows some battered immigrants to apply to immigrate without the abuser's assistance or knowledge. Help is available to victms through the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. Thomas Esparza also provides listings of Women’s Shelters for Texas at tomesparza.com.

To file a self-petition (petition for yourself for immigration benefits) you must qualify under one of these categories:

  • Spouse: married to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident or not divorced within the last two years.
  • Parent: of a child who has been abused by your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse.

· Child: under 21 years of age and unmarried abused by your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident parent.

Unmarried children under the age of 21, can be included on your petition as derivative beneficiaries.

For women who are not married to citizens or permanent residents there is a non immigrant visa that might be available to you and that can lead to permanent resident status.

These cases are complicated but well worth it if you can live safely. To self-petition, Thomas Esparza completes and files USCIS Form I-360 (Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant) with documentation. Work permits available even before the green card. Sometimes, you can get your green card right away. Thomas Esparza has many years handling this kind of case. All your information is kept strictly confidential.