There has been a substantial increase in domestic violence cases as a result of COVID-19. The inequalities and issues related to domestic violence have always been there, but the pandemic has brought them to light. Comprehensive data is not available because many cases go unreported. However, now that family members are stuck at home with their attackers, the numbers are on the rise.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline reported a 9% increase in calls between March and May of 2020. Cities across the country are experiencing an increase. The New York City Police Department reported a 10% increase in domestic violence reports. Police in San Antonio reported an 18% increase in family violence cases.
If you are an immigrant who has suffered from domestic violence, then the Violence Against Women Act may be able to help. VAWA provides an avenue for immigrant victims of domestic violence to obtain a green card without relying on abusive spouses, parents, or children to sponsor them. This is important because many abusers may try to control an individual’s immigration status as part of the abuse.
In order to qualify for VAWA, you must establish that you were the victim of abuse or extreme cruelty at the hands of a United States citizen or legal permanent resident.
The abuser could be a spouse, parent, or child. If your abuser is a spouse and you divorce your abuser, you must apply within two years of the divorce. If your abuser is your spouse, you must show that you married in good faith. You must also prove that you were the victim of physical, sexual, or psychological abuse. In addition, you must establish that you are of good moral character.
To prove eligibility for a VAWA petition, there are a number of required documents. You may want to consult with an immigration attorney to help you successfully put together your petition. Do not collect documents or gather any evidence if it will compromise your safety. An attorney can help you find alternative ways of proving something if you cannot get the documentation. Once you file the petition, authorities are not allowed to tell your abuser that you have done so. They cannot give out any information about your application.
If you are thinking about petitioning under VAWA, you should consult with an experienced immigration attorney. At Serving Immigrants, we have extensive experience helping abuse victims. Contact us online or call us at 305-924-1133 to schedule a strategy session.