DON’T BE HOSTAGE WITH A GREEN CARD
In the United States, more than 2 million people get married every year.
The sad reality is that many of these people end up not embarking on a great love story but living a nightmare. According to the NCADV (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence), more than 10 million adults are victims of domestic violence in the United States and because it is a repetitive pattern of behavior, the victim usually only reports the aggression after numerous occurrences. This situation worsens in the case of immigrants, as the spouse often uses status (or lack thereof) as a means of control and intimidation, causing the person to remain in that situation for fear of being out of status or of possible deportation.
The good news is that he/she does not have to undergo this abuse to preserve his/her status and/or residency in the United States. If the immigrant is married to a US citizen or permanent resident (green card holder), and is a victim of domestic violence, he/she can apply for his/her green card without the participation of his/her spouse. Furthermore, the adjustment of status application does not depend on the applicant’s regular status.
What does this mean? It means that if the individual married a US citizen or permanent resident (green card holder) and is a victim of domestic violence, even though they are without status, they can apply for and have their green card granted while in the United States. This prerogative does not depend on a request for adjustment of status for a previous marriage; that is, even if an adjustment of status has never been requested from immigration, the person can request it through the approval of the domestic violence verification process.
The VAWA process (Form I-360) can be applied for by victims of domestic violence committed by US citizens and green card holders while they are married but also up to two years after death. of the U.S. citizen abuser, loss of the permanent resident abuser’s domestic violence green card, or the permanent resident or citizen’s divorce for domestic violence. It is important to note that although other individuals may also be eligible for this process, such as parents and children of aggressors, the focus here is on their spouses.
In the immigration process, as in life, domestic violence is not restricted to physical aggression. The USCIS (Citizenship and Immigration Services) defines domestic violence as “a pattern of behavior when an intimate partner or spouse threatens or abuses the other partner. Domestic violence can include physical assault, forced sexual intercourse, emotional manipulations (including isolation or intimidation), and economic and/or immigration-related threats. While most incidents of domestic violence involve men assaulting women or children, men can also be victims of domestic violence.”
The cycle of domestic violence is a highly sensitive subject, the victim often feels responsible for the situation they are in and is afraid to even ask for help. Of all the fears that lead an immigrant to get out of an abusive relationship with a US citizen or permanent resident, the fear of getting a green card doesn’t have to be one of them.