Q: Should I file for my divorce first or VAWA green card?
I'm an immigrant married to a US citizen who will be filing for a VAWA green card. I was a victim of domestic abuse and I would like to divorce my spouse. During our marriage he was the main bread winner and I was the care taker at home. I could not work due to immigration reason but I have a Bachelors degree in Accounting and have a higher earning potential than he does. So my question is should I file for my divorce first or VAWA green card?
The decision of whether to file for divorce first or pursue a VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) self-petition for a green card depends on your individual circumstances and the facts of your case. It's essential to consider various factors before making a decision, and it's advisable to consult with an immigration attorney who can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation. Here are some considerations:
Eligibility for VAWA Self-Petition: VAWA allows certain abused spouses and children of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents to self-petition for a green card without the abuser's knowledge or consent. To be eligible, you must demonstrate that you meet the requirements, including having been subjected to abuse or extreme cruelty by the U.S. citizen or LPR spouse. If you believe you meet these criteria, you can initiate the VAWA self-petition process.
Timing: In some cases, it may be more practical to file for divorce first, especially if the divorce process is already underway or if there are pressing legal or personal reasons to do so. However, filing for divorce before pursuing VAWA does not automatically make you ineligible for VAWA relief. You can still self-petition for a green card after filing for divorce if you meet the eligibility requirements.
Abuser's Status: Consider the immigration status of the abusive spouse. If the abusive spouse is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, it may be relevant to your VAWA self-petition. However, VAWA self-petitions are generally possible regardless of the abuser's immigration status.
Evidence: Gathering evidence of the abuse is crucial for a successful VAWA self-petition. This evidence can include police reports, medical records, witness statements, photographs, or any other documentation that supports your claim of abuse. The timing of your petition may depend on your ability to gather sufficient evidence.
Legal Advice: Consult with an immigration attorney who specializes in VAWA cases. They can assess your situation, provide guidance on the best course of action, and help you navigate the complexities of both the VAWA self-petition and divorce processes.
Safety: Your safety and the safety of any dependent children should be a top priority. If you are in an abusive relationship, consider seeking assistance from domestic violence support organizations and legal professionals who can help ensure your safety during this process.
Ultimately, whether you should file for divorce first or pursue a VAWA self-petition will depend on your unique circumstances and legal considerations. It is crucial to have a comprehensive strategy in place and seek professional legal advice to make informed decisions that prioritize your well-being and immigration status.
A: I'm sorry to hear that you're experiencing this. When it comes to filing for a green card under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) versus filing for divorce, it can often be a strategic choice. In many cases, it may be advantageous to initiate your VAWA self-petition before filing for divorce to maintain a stronger connection to your marriage for the immigration application; but keep in mind, under VAWA, you can still file within 2 years of a divorce if the divorce is connected to the abuse. Given the complexity and the sensitive nature of your situation, it is strongly recommended to consult with an attorney experienced in immigration and family law to understand all of your options and potential strategies before proceeding.
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