The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) creates a potential path to citizenship for survivors of domestic violence. Survivors can receive a green card if the abuser was or is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or parent. A survivor must also meet other criteria, including establishing that they are of good moral character.
Good moral character has an ambiguous definition in the Immigration and Nationality Act. There are a number of items that will absolutely disqualify someone for a green card, such as criminal activity and engaging in a commercialized vice. These items can be found in INA section 101(f). Officials can make discretionary determination regardless of whether one of the disqualifying items has been met. The inquiry into this requirement generally focuses on the three (3) years prior to the application, but an official can look beyond that period of time.
The first step in proving that you are of good moral character is submitting to a background check. This check must be on the state and local level and comply with USCIS biometrics. An individual will be prohibited from obtaining a green card if they have committed a statutorily disqualifying offense. These offenses include aggravated felonies and crimes involving moral turpitude.
In addition, an applicant can provide evidence establishing their good moral character. This evidence can include affidavits from friends, family members, employers, landlords, and other members or leaders of the community. An applicant can also provide evidence of participation in volunteer organizations or other events in the community. Letters and records from the police department, establishing that the applicant has not committed a criminal offense, can also be helpful.
Proving good moral character is an absolutely essential part of any VAWA application. If you are unable to sufficiently establish that you are of good moral character, then your application will be denied. That’s why it is important to gather as much evidence as possible and to make sure that you have the strongest case.
If you are applying for a VAWA green card, you should have an experienced 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.