Under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), individuals who demonstrate that they have been the victims of abuse or eligible to obtain green cards. VAWA green card holders are also eligible to apply for citizenship. In some cases, VAWA green card holders can apply for citizenship after three year instead of the usual five years.
If you are the abused spouse of a United States citizen, then you may be eligible to apply for citizenship three years after you obtain your green card. You will not be required to show that you are still residing with the citizen spouse. It also doesn’t matter if you are still married or divorced from the citizen spouse. You can also apply after three years as a legal permanent resident even if your citizen spouse has died. This is an important benefit of the VAWA green card. Spouses of U.S. citizens that seek naturalization have to wait five years after obtaining their green card.
If you are the abused child of a United States citizen, then you can also apply for citizenship three years after you become a legal permanent resident. It does not matter if your parent is dead or no longer a citizen. In addition, you no longer need to meet the definition of a child. You can be over 21 years old and be married. Like all naturalization applicants, however, you must be over 18 years old.
If you were approved for a green card based on being an abuse victim of a spouse or parent who was a legal permanent resident, you may be able to apply for citizenship within three years if that spouse or parent becomes a citizen. You must wait until your spouse or parent has been a citizen for at least three years. All other exceptions and requirements that apply to spouses and children of U.S. citizens will still apply.
If you want to explore your options under the Violence Against Women Act, then you should consult with an experienced immigration attorney. At Serving Immigrants, we’re here to help you through the process. Contact us online or call us at (305) 907-6151 to schedule a strategy session.