VAWA stands for the Violence Against Women Act (and it is also for MEN), and it provides an avenue for certain victims of domestic violence and abuse to apply for a green card on their own.
So if you are the spouse, or ex spouse of a US citizen or resident, If you are the child of a US citizen or resident or the Parent of a US citizen who is 21 years or older, and you are being abused (either physically or emotionally, or in any other extremely cruel way) you may be able to apply for your green card on your own without your petitioner. It is a self petition.
So what are some of the reasons that your application might be denied?
1. If you are applying for VAWA based on an abusive marriage then you are still responsible for providing evidence of a bona fide marriage. This means you have to provide evidence that your marriage was real. Evidence that you lived together, joint finances, bank statements, joint children, statements from family or friends, pictures, any credible evidence that shows that your marriage was based on love and not to secure immigration benefits. If you are unable to do that, then you run the risk of your VAWA application being denied. A marriage certificate and a few pics at the wedding is not enough to show that you have a bona fide marriage.
Now, there are some cases when the abuse or abusive situation makes it difficult for the self petitioner to get these documents or proof, however there might be other ways that you can show that you were in fact married, including your personal statement and the statement of others. There might be other things that you can think of as well. If you are having difficulty this is why you should work with an experienced Attorney to assist with your VAWA case.
2. You did not provide sufficient evidence of abuse or extreme cruelty. The whole purpose of the VAWA petition is to provide an avenue for victims to self-apply for their green card. In creating this benefit, the government thought that if victims had an avenue to get a green on their own, they might be less likely to stay in abusive and dangerous situations just because of their lack of status.
Therefore, you as the petitioner bears the burden of proof to show USCIS that you were abused. I get a lot of questions about whether police reports are required or necessary, and the answer is no. A police report is not required. ABUSE under VAWA can come in many forms, including physical, emotional, financial, sexual and other behaviors that lead to extreme cruelty.
3. Missed the filing deadline. Technically you can apply for VAWA at any point after your abuse, however. If you have divorced your abusive spouse and are basing the VAWA petition on that marriage, you have up until two years after your divorce became final. So if you are divorced because your spouse was being abusive and you left, and you are just learning about this benefit, then you might want to consider your time frame to apply. Again that is two years from when your divorce became final.
4. Mistakes on the application. It is very important that you work with an immigration attorney experienced with this type of case. And try not to DIY. Some people get lucky and are able to apply on their own and get approved, however if you have a very complicated set of facts in your case, you may not want to risk applying, making mistakes and getting a denial. A denial will lead to time wasted, money wasted and emotional stress. So, if you are thinking of applying for VAWA, consider working with an immigration attorney to lower your risk of you getting a denial.
5. You did not provide evidence that you lived with your abuser/spouse. One of the requirements for VAWA is that you lived with your abuser at some point. Even if it was for a short period of time. Failure to provide evidence that you lived together could lead to you receiving a denial. Again, you can provide a copy of a joint lease agreement, evidence that you both have bills going to the same address, mortgage statement, statements from friends or family that know that you both live together; and so fourth.
6. Your declaration was not strong or credible. One of the most important pieces of evidence that you will submit with your VAWA application is your declaration which is essentially your personal statement. This is your opportunity to share facts, and details of the abuse. You can use this as an opportunity to talk about your relationship, how it started, how it ended (if it ended), how the abuse happened, what happened, and how it is affecting you. If you do not provide an effective VAWA declaration, one that is compelling and credible you could be denied. This is where working with an Immigration Attorney comes in handy. An Immigration Attorney will be able to guide you and advise you on whether your declaration is effective and strong for your VAWA application.
7. You got married while the application was pending. If you are applying for VAWA based on abuse from your spouse who you have since divorced then you cannot remarry while the VAWA application is pending. Doing so will render your application null and void and you will be denied. This does not mean you have to stay single while your application is pending, it simply means that you cannot get married. So this is something to consider if you are thinking of applying for VAWA based on divorce from your abusive spouse.
The examples listed above are not the only reasons your VAWA application could be denied. There could an array of reasons, but these are some of the main examples why someone might receive a denial on their VAWA application.
I hope that you found this information helpful. Please continue to send your questions and I will be happy to answer them. If you would like access to our facebook group where we provide daily immigration tips, answers to frequently asked questions, host weekly webinars and answer your direct questions click the link in our bio to join. It is completely free, and every week we will select two individuals from our facebook group to win a free case evaluation for themselves or a loved one.
If you have an immigration case you would like us to help you with you can give us a call, our number is 201 565 0099. We are located in NJ, however we represent clients in all 50 states and around the world with Immigration law matters.