West Bend, WI asked in Immigration Law, Divorce and Domestic Violence for Wisconsin

Q: Can 5 years being wife apply for wava green card & culturally continue to live with husband ?

Husband use 10 types of violence against his wife except the physical violence. She has text and audio evidences, but she is religiously forgiving him and culturally saving his reputation.

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

A: I understand this is a very difficult and sensitive situation. Here is some information that may be helpful:

Under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), an abused spouse of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident can self-petition for a green card without the abuser's knowledge or consent. The self-petitioner must prove they entered the marriage in good faith and that they or their child were battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by the U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse.

Abuse under VAWA is defined broadly to include physical, sexual, emotional, economic, and psychological abuse. Text messages and audio recordings providing evidence of emotional/psychological abuse and threats could potentially support a VAWA case, even in the absence of physical violence.

Choosing to remain with an abusive spouse for religious or cultural reasons does not automatically disqualify someone from VAWA relief. However, the abuse must have been a central reason for the self-petition. Simply having relationship problems is not enough on its own.

There is no specific marriage length requirement for VAWA, as long as the self-petitioner can demonstrate a genuine marital relationship. Even if divorced, an abused spouse can still self-petition within 2 years of the divorce if there is a connection between the divorce and the abuse.

While it may be possible to obtain a green card under VAWA while continuing to live with the abuser, this is a very complex situation that requires careful legal guidance. I would strongly encourage speaking with an experienced immigration attorney who specializes in VAWA and domestic violence cases. They can provide confidential advice about eligibility, evidence, safety planning, and filing strategy based on the specific details of the situation. Many nonprofit organizations provide free and low-cost legal services for immigrant domestic violence survivors.

The most important thing is ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the abused spouse. Even if they are not ready to leave the relationship, there are resources and legal protections available. I hope this information is a helpful starting point, but please seek expert legal counsel for such a difficult circumstance. Wishing all the best to the individual in this situation.

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