Marrying a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) can be a path to citizenship for many people. However, an abusive spouse can use the threat of losing a Green Card as a way to keep the battered spouse reliant on the abuser. Using a green card as a threat may also make an abused spouse fearful of reporting the abuse. There are options for an abused spouse to seek permanent residency without the abuser and without fear of losing legal status.
If you have any questions about green cards and marriage in Los Angeles, the Law Offices of Victoria J. Suh is here to help you take control of your and your family's future. Call us today at 213-387-2888 to learn how we can help.
Moving Away From the Abuser With a Pending Green Card Application in Los Angeles
If you received conditional permanent resident status through marriage to a U.S. Citizen or LPR, your conditional status is generally valid for 2 years and cannot be renewed. If you fail to do anything after 2 years, you may risk losing lawful status. To remove conditional status, the spouse generally needs to complete Form I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence during the 90-day period before your conditional resident status expires.
Filing a Form I-751 generally involves filing a joint petition with both spouses. However, there is a waiver of the joint filing requirement where the resident was subject to spousal abuse. This means that if your spouse is abusing you and/or your conditional resident child, you can file a waiver of the joint filing requirement and you do not need your spouse's consent to petition to remove conditions on residence.
Completion of the form requires the following evidence:
- Copies of the front and back of your Permanent Resident Card and the cards for any conditional resident children in your petition;
- Evidence of the relationship indicating that the marriage was entered in good faith and was not for the purpose of circumventing immigration laws;
- Evidence of abuse;
- If your marriage was terminated by divorce on grounds of physical abuse or extreme cruelty, provide your final divorce or annulment decree; and
- Dispositions on any applicable criminal charges, arrests, or convictions.
Legal Status for Abuse Victims in California
There are other options for victims of violence or sexual assault at the hands of a spouse or partner. Victims of abuse may petition for legal status or seek cancellation of removal under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Petitions and applications are confidential and the abuser will not know about the application.
Applying for a VAWA green card is done through Form I-360, which provides for self-petitioning for a spouse of an abusive U.S. citizen or LPR. This generally requires providing evidence of:
- The abuser's U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent resident status;
- Marriage and divorce decrees, birth certificates, or other evidence of your legal relationship to the abuser;
- Documents showing that you and the abuser have resided together;
- Evidence of the abuse;
- Affidavit of good moral character and supporting required documents; and
- Evidence showing you entered your marriage in good faith.
Immigration Help for Spouses in Los Angeles
The Law Offices of Victoria J. Suh have a proven record of helping clients in tough immigration situations. Whatever your immigration matter, you do not have to face it on your own. The Law Offices of Victoria J. Suh is here to help you take control of your and your family's future. Initial consultations are always free, so contact us today.