Since the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 2013, the number of applications for “domestic violence green cards” has risen steadily. However, as the number of applications has increased, the percentage of applications flagged as possibly fraudulent has risen at an even faster rate. Fraud referrals have more than quadrupled over the last five years. This has many advocates concerned about the future of these green cards.
Under VAWA, an individual may be eligible for a green card, if they have been the victim of domestic violence. Victims can self-petition for a green card if they can establish that they have endured domestic violence at the hands of a United States citizen or permanent resident. The availability of this green card has been a great advantage and offered peace of mind and security to thousands of victims.
Now with greater scrutiny being placed on these green card applications, it may have a chilling effect and be harmful to victims. Claiming that the victims of domestic violence are fraudulently seeking permanent residency is a blow to victims. Advocates worry that concern over fraud may lead to changes in VAWA and the application procedure, making it more difficult for victims of domestic violence who are seeking a green card.
There have been instances of fraud in VAWA applications, as with any visa application. In some cases, there are individuals who have been fraudulently married in an effort to later claim domestic violence. By 2018, 6% of VAWA petitions were flagged for fraud.
While detecting fraud is an important part of maintaining the integrity of the program, it is feared that unfair levels of scrutiny will lead to a silencing of victims who may already feel silenced in their immigrant communities. Any modification to VAWA would only add to the already high hurdles immigrant victims face. If there is a continued mistrust of domestic violence survivors, then violence will be allowed to continue.
If you are seeking a VAWA green card, it can be helpful to have an experienced and trusted immigration attorney on your side. At Serving Immigrants, Inc., we have the experience and the knowledge to guide you through the application process. Contact us online or call us at (305) 907-6151 to schedule a strategy session.