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VAWA petition most common mistakes: Immigration lawyer advice

👋Hi friends, I’m immigration attorney, Marina Shepelsky. Today, I’d like to talk about the biggest reasons VAWA petitions get denied and the most common mistakes with VAWA petitions.

▶VAWA petition has basically three elements to it.

1️⃣First, you have to prove joint documents. You have to prove that this marriage was a real marriage, entered to create a family together. The bonafides or the proofs of the marriage are any joint documents proving you lived together with your US citizen or green card holder spouse in the past, or even now — sometimes people file (that’s okay) while they’re still living with an abusive spouse.

2️⃣The number two element is the abuse, of course. You have to prove that you were abused, whether the police were called, if you have orders of protection, but not everyone does. So we get a psychologist evaluation, we get witness letters, we get anything like you changed the locks when he ran away after hitting you or doing something bad to you. Anything that you can use to prove the abuse is okay.

3️⃣The number three element is good moral character. In other words, in any place where you lived for at least six months (if you’re filing more than three years since you’ve been in America), in any state, any locality, you have to provide a police clearance. And if you’re in America, less than three years at the time of filing, you also need to provide a police clearance from your country.

☝🏼Besides the police clearances for moral character, you can include anything about yourself, volunteering and charity organizations. Maybe you helped a homeless organization, or maybe you help on Thanksgiving and at some soup kitchens, or maybe you attend church or go regularly to the mosque, your religious leader can write a letter saying you’re part of the community and a good moral person. You help others. You’re in the community. People like you. You’re good, trustworthy real-world person.

Here are mistakes people make:

1️⃣Number one, and the most common mistake you filed visa applications, you filed other petitions. Maybe your husband or wife filed for your family petition. The information in those is different from what you’re including now in the VAWA petition. So, a wise smart thing to do would be to get a copy of whatever you filed before, and when you prepare your VAWA, you look at them and you make sure everything matches. Information that’s not the same or that you hide will trigger a fraud warning. Immigration and USCIS will think you’re lying. And that will cause you to get denied.

2️⃣Common mistake number two is not including offenses when you apply for VAWA. If you had arrests and you decide not to include them, even if you think it was a traffic stop, even if it was dismissed, even if you only paid a small fine, even if you had to pay a fine, or it was sealed, anything like that, you must include in the VAWA petition and explain what happened. Don’t hide it. The best thing to do is to include it, give a paper about it directly from the agency. It could be from court or from the district attorney – explain what happened.

3️⃣Mistake number three, people don’t include police clearances from every place they lived, or if they’re here recently from another country, they don’t include a police clearance from their country. And those are not always easy to get. I get that, but you need to include them. You may want to do a VAWA self-petition, but it might be worthwhile for you to use a lawyer, like we help people file VAWA. We’re always ordering those from the local, police stations or local, justice department or whatever, or directly from the country. Sometimes when people don’t remember all the places they live, I have to run an FBI check with your fingerprints and that’s okay, too. We do that as well.

4️⃣Mistake number four that people make: not including enough details about dating, courtship, and married lives with their abuser. Most people tend to concentrate on their stories. When they include a story with a VAWA petition, they concentrate on the abuse and that’s okay, but you also have to give enough details to prove you really did live with this abusive spouse. That’s details of how you met, details about dating, details about how you decided to get married and courtship, and details of the wedding and married life.

It’s really a good idea if you’re not living together anymore, and it’s just been terrible where all kinds of bad things happened, to file for divorce based on the abuse. If your state allows it for cruelty, that’s really good. And it’s going to help your case tremendously, in many cases, the only thing I had to prove the abuse was the story, the psychologist evaluation, and the divorce complaint. In the divorce complaint, we included the same details from the case, talking about the cruelty, the abuse, and that works to prove the abuse.

5️⃣Mistake number five: not including proofs of abuse, which I mentioned already. Proofs of abuse can be, like I just mentioned, your divorce filing is based on cruelty. You have to say a psychologist, you have to see them on a regular basis, and you need to get an evaluation to prove how many times you went, what you spoke about, and the psychologist as a doctor, somebody who is a professional in giving professional medical or psychological or psychiatric opinions will say, y”I’m Dr. So-and-so; in my opinion, this person has all the symptoms of somebody who went through domestic violence, they have post-traumatic stress disorder. All of their symptoms are related to the abuse. It’s not like they’re just crazy.”

If you have a situation where you’re living in an abusive environment, your spouse is a US citizen or green card holder, or maybe you are even divorced now from them, but it’s less than two years later, or you were even a widow of somebody who used to abuse you, we can help you get a work permit and a green card through a process called I-360 VAWA petition. And I just discussed with you a whole bunch of really useful practical tips for mistakes to avoid what kind of documents to include.

✅Of course, I highly recommend that you use a lawyer who knows what they’re doing with VAWA. And if you have a case like this, give us a call. We can definitely help you start a new life. You don’t deserve to live with this abuse.

📄The VAWA I-360 processing time may take a while. And although this is not a short, quick process, you don’t need any permission or any participation by the abusive spouse. They will never find out about it. They will not get in trouble with this. It’s a confidential process. You have nothing to be afraid of. Give us a call.

Shepelsky Law Group
2415 Avenue U,  Ste. 2 Rear
Brooklyn, NY 11229
Tel: 718-769-6352