Challenges in a VAWA Petition
MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE NOT AVAILABLESometimes the VAWA applicant leaves an abusive marriage in a hurry without any documents necessary to substantiate her case.
You can obtain a duplicate marriage certificate and indicate this on your VAWA petition under documents to be produced, if previously filed petitions, rely on the immigration file for documents they have in their possession.
Documents from children's schools that list spouse as parent is evidence of family life.
Inability to produce documents should not deter you from applying for this benefit.
MARRIAGE NOT VALIDThis is a very common challenge faced by many applicants.
Invalidity of marriage can occur simply because the abuser was not available to marry or marriage is not recognized.
If you married in good faith and you believed you were married, you can obtain benefit under this provision.
You will have to satisfy your burden of proof as mandated.
NO EVIDENCE OF US CITIZENSHIP OR LAWFUL PERMANENT STATUS OF ABUSERIf you have previously filed petitions with the abuser, you can rely on the immigration file in the possession of the service.
Social security card and number will also assist you in obtaining evidence of his citizenship or lawful permanent status.
NO PHYSICAL ABUSEPetitions under the abused spouse provision encompasses all forms of abuse, it is not necessary to have suffered only physical abuse.
Evidence of other forms of abuse can be presented such as mental, emotional, psychological.
Expert evidence is critical where there is no physical abuse and police reports.
Expert witness is a very useful tool under these circumstances.
INSUFFICIENT NUMBER OF AFFIDAVITS FROM FAMILIES OR FRIENDSAffidavits can be collected from any person who knew about your marriage and the abuse you suffered.
If due to the nature of the abuse you are unable to have evidence from his family members or friends because he isolated you from them, provide an affidavit to that effect detailing the isolation.
NO DIVORCES FROM PREVIOUS MARRIAGES.Even though this might leave you in a very unenviable position, you can still obtain VAWA if you believed he was available to marry and that you believed you were legally married.
The burden is on the petitioner and you may submit evidence of a bona fide marriage to overcome this burden.
Affidavits from community members, church members who knew you as a couple should be submitted for bona fides of marriage and for shared family life.
EVIDENCE OF A BONA FIDE MARRIAGEEvery evidence is relevant here to overcome this burden and nothing should be overlooked.
Mortgages, deeds, property titles, insurance policies, joint bank accounts, holiday expense receipts, children school records and medical records naming abuser as caretaker or parent.
Affidavits from family, friends, co-workers, church community.
Photographs or any events attended by couple in the community, with friends and family or holidays taken together and wedding reception.
Previously filed petitions on applicant's behalf.
This is by no means a complete list of evidence needed to overcome burden.