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FAQ / LIGHTHOUSE ARTICLES:

(#84-08/01/98)

Spousal abuse and greencard petition


US Immigration Question:

I have been married to a legal permanent resident for over 1 year. He refuses to file for my green card. Moreover, he abuses me and our little baby. Can my baby, who was born in America file for my green card?


Answer:

US citizen children must be 21 years old before they are able to sponsor their parents for green cards.

However, Congress passed a law on September 13, 1994 that allows battered spouses and children to sponsor themselves for a green card. The intent of the law is to limit the ability of an abusive citizen or green card holder to use the US Immigration laws to perpetuate further violence against a spouse or child residing in the US

There are two main components to a self-petition by a battered spouse or child:

  1. proving the abuse, and
  2. proving extreme hardship if you are denied a green card.

 

EVIDENCE OF ABUSE

Samples of evidence used to prove abuse includes, but not limited to the following:

  1. Reports and affidavits from police, judges, or other court officials,
  2. Reports and affidavits from medical personnel, counselors, social workers, and school officials,
  3. Evidence that the victim sought safe-haven in a battered women's shelter or similar refuge,
  4. Photographs of the injuries and affidavits from those with direct knowledge of the abuse,
  5. Criminal background of the abuser.


EVIDENCE OF EXTREME HARDSHIP


In addition to proving the abuse, you must prove that it would create "extreme hardship" to yourself and your child if you are denied a green card. For example, focus on the existence of laws, social practice, or customs in Japan which would penalize or ostracize you or your child for having been a victim of abuse and/or divorce. Also, highlight your needs, or the needs of your child for social, medical, mental health, or other services which might not be available or accessible to you in Japan. If your child is in school, what type of harm may arise as a result of the disruption of educational opportunities for your child in the United States.

If you are a victim of abuse, do not worry that you are in the United States illegally. The laws recognize this possibility and forgive you. Unfortunately, since you are married to a green card holder, you will have to wait about 5 years before you get your green card. But do not worry. During this waiting period you will be given a work card. [if you are married to an abusive US citizen you would get your green card immediately.]

 

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