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Self-petitioning for green card after domestic abuse

South Carolina domestic abuse victims can seek legal assistance with their green card matters. The spouse of any U.S. citizen or permanent resident can petition under the federal Violence Against Women Act to receive help with immigration and naturalization. Spouses must first prove that they or their child have faced abuse or extreme cruelty from the U.S. citizen or permanent resident in order to qualify for protection.

Abused spouses should consider obtaining a family court protective order against the abuser. This can not only offer protection for the victim but help support a VAWA case. Mental health professionals can also confirm that abuse is present in a given situation. If an abused spouse chooses to pursue a VAWA self-petition, the first step is to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for information. The next step is to fill out a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Form I-360.

The VAWA was passed by Congress in 1994 to protect immigrant women from domestic abuse. Prior to its enactment, immigrant women were left at the mercy of their abusers with no other way to remain in the country with their children. Self-petitioning is designed to ensure that abused women do not feel forced to stay with their abusers in order to remain in the United States.

Domestic abuse victims seeking green cards and immigrant visas may benefit from contacting an immigration and naturalization law attorney. Legal counsel may be able to provide the support and information immigrant women need to escape an abusive situation.

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