• Battered U.S. Women & Children are Not the Only Ones Protected
  • May 5, 2003 | Author: Caroline Cooper
  • Law Firm: Cooper and Smiths - New Providence Office
  • There are instances where immigrant women are married to U.S. citizens or to lawful permanent residents, and are not yet granted legal status to reside permanently in the United States.

    Under the current immigration laws, it is the citizen or resident spouse who must file a petition for lawful permanent residence on behalf of the immigrant spouse and/or children.

    But what happens if the immigrant spouse and/or children are abused, and the spouse refuses to file the petition? Can they still obtain lawful permanent residency?

    Reasons a Spouse/Father Would Not File a Petition

    • It is easier to exert control over the spouse/children if they know they can be deported
    • To instill fear of deportation in the minds of the spouse/children as a consequence of reporting the abuse
    • To make the spouse/children believe legal help is only for those who are citizens and legal immigrants

    Protection for Immigrant Women
    The Violence Against Women Act makes an exception for battered immigrant women and children. They may file a petition for permanent residency on their own behalf, subject to the following conditions:

    • They must be of good moral character
    • They can be classified as an immediate relative
    • They have resided in the U.S. with their U.S. citizen spouse
    • They are currently residing in the U.S.
    • The marriage between the alien and spouse was entered into in good faith
    • During the marriage the alien or a child of the alien was battered or was subjected to extreme cruelty by the alien's spouse
    • Deportation of the alien would result in extreme hardship to either the alien or a child of the alien

    Protection for Immigrant Children
    Immigrant children who have a U.S. citizen parent may file a petition for permanent residency, subject to the following conditions:

    • They must be of good moral character
    • They are eligible to be classified as an immediate relative
    • They have resided in the U.S. with the citizen parent
    • During the period of residence with the citizen parent the immigrant child was battered or subject to extreme cruelty by the citizen parent
    • Deportation of the alien would result in extreme hardship on the aliens