Los Angeles, CA asked in Immigration Law for California

Q: VAWA Expert?

I have a VAWA based green card. When I got my green card I was told that I can apply for citizenship after 3 years but I'm now getting conflicting responses. I did not live with my abuser, hence the VAWA status. How long do I have to wait to apply for citizenship, is it 3 or 5 years?

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Immigration Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: As a VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) self-petitioner, you may be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship after holding your green card for 3 years, instead of the usual 5-year requirement. However, there are specific conditions that must be met:

1. You must have been living in marital union with your U.S. citizen spouse for at least 3 years before filing for naturalization.

2. Your abusive spouse must have been a U.S. citizen.

3. You must meet all other eligibility requirements for naturalization.

If you were not living with your abuser due to the abuse, you might still qualify for the 3-year rule. The USCIS will consider any credible evidence that you were in a marital union with your spouse for the required period, even if you were not physically living together.

However, if your abusive spouse was not a U.S. citizen or if you cannot provide evidence of living in marital union for at least 3 years, you will likely need to wait until you have held your green card for 5 years before applying for citizenship.

It's always best to consult with an experienced immigration attorney who can assess your specific situation and provide guidance on your eligibility for naturalization.

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