VAWA self-petition

ANG isang karaniwang paraan upang makakuha ang dayuhan ng green card ay sa pamamagitan ng spouse petition ng asawang U.S. citizen (USC). Ngunit may mga pagkakataon na may karahasan na ginagawa ang USC sa kanyang asawang dayuhan at ang dayuhan ay nagtitiis at nananatili sa kasal dahil sa kanyang immigration status. Noong 1994, isinagawang batas ni Pangulong Bill Clinton ang Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Kinikilala ng VAWA ang epekto ng karahasan sa mga asawang dayuhan at sa kanilang mga menor de edad na mga anak. Sa ilalim ng VAWA, may mga paraan pa rin ang dayuhang biktima ng domestikong karahasan para maging legal ang kanyang immigration status kahit hiwalay na siya sa USC. Ang dayuhan ay maaaring mag-VAWA self-petition.

Dito, kailangang niyang ipakitang siya ay may good faith marriage sa asawang USC, at noong kasal, siya ay napailalim sa mga pang-aabuso o kalupitan sa kamay ng USC.

Kinakailangan ding ipakita ng dayuhan na sila ng USC ay nagsama bilang mag-asawa, at ang dayuhan ay may good moral character. Ang dayuhan na may divorce decree na sa USC ay maaari pa ring mag-VAWA self petition kung itong self-petition ay kanyang ifile sa USCIS sa loob ng dalawang taon mula sa petsa ng divorce decree.

Ayon sa batas, maipapakita ang karahasan o kalupitan kung ang dayuhan ay biktima ng mga akto ng karahasan mismo o kaya mga pagbabanta ng karahasan, mga pisikal o mental na pinsala, sikologikal na pang-aabuso, abusong sekswal tulad ng panggagahasa, pagmomolestya o prostitusyon. May mga pang-aabuso rin na maaaring isaalang-alang bilang karahasan tulad ng pang-aabusong emosyonal dahil ito ay parte ng kabuoang karahasan. Ang mga pang-aabuso, kalupitan o karahasan ay kailangang ginawa ng USC sa dayuhang asawa o sa anak nitong menor de edad, at ang mga ito ay dapat naganap noong sila ay kasal pa at nagsasama pa bilang mag-asawa.

Ang VAWA self-petition ay kailangang may kasamang edidensya ng citizenship ng USC at ebidensya ng good faith marriage. Ang pangunahing ebidensya ng kasal ay ang marriage certificate na galing sa county recorder, at mga patibay na ang mga dating kasal ng USC at dayuhan ay tapos na o wala nang bisa. Ang good faith marriage ay maipapakita sa pamamagitan ng mga dokumento tulad ng insurance policies, kasunduan ng pag-upa, tax returns, bank accounts, at mga testimonya tungkol sa panliligaw, kasal at pagsasama ng mag-asawa. Mabuti ring ebidensya ng good faith marriage ang birth certificate ng mga anak, mga dokumento galing sa police, doctor at korte at mga sinumpaang salaysay ng mga taong may kaalaman tungkol sa relasyon ng mag-asawa. Ang mga ebidensya naman ng karahasan at kalupitan ay mga police report, medical report, mga sulat galing sa eskwelahan, simbahan o social worker. Kung ang dayuhan ay kumuha na temporary restraining order sa kanyang asawang USC o kaya ay tumira sa battered women’s shelter, ito ay mga matibay din na patunay ng pang-aabusong naganap.

One of the most common ways to get a green card is by family-based petition through marriage to a U.S. citizen (USC). However, sometimes there is abuse perpetrated during the marriage by the USC spouse and the alien feels that he or she is forced to stay with the USC spouse because of immigration status. The immigrant provisions of VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) provide legal remedies that permit victims of domestic violence to legalize their status independent of their abusers. An alien who is the spouse of a USC may self-petition for immigrant classification under VAWA if the alien demonstrates that he or she entered into the marriage with the USC spouse in good faith and that during the marriage, the alien or a child of the alien was battered or subjected to extreme cruelty perpetrated by the USC spouse. In addition, the alien must show that he or she is eligible to be classified as an immediate relative, resided with the abusive spouse, and is a person of good moral character. An alien who has divorced an abusive USC may still petition under VAWA if the alien demonstrates a connection between the legal termination of marriage within the past 2 years and the battering or extreme cruelty by the USC spouse.

The phrase “was battered by or subject of extreme cruelty” includes, but is not limited to, being the victim of any act or threatened act of violence, including any forceful detention, which results or threatens to result in physical or mental injury. Psychological or sexual abuse or exploitation, including rape, molestation, or prostitution shall be considered acts of violence. Other abusive actions may also be acts of violence including acts that, in and of themselves, may not initially appear violent but that are a part of an overall pattern of violence. The qualifying abuse must have been committed by the USC spouse, must have been perpetrated against the self-petitioner or the self-petitioner’s child, and must have taken place during the self-petitioner’s marriage to the USC spouse abuser.

A self-petition filed by the abused spouse must be accompanied by evidence of citizenship of the USC spouse abuser. It must also be accompanied by evidence of the relationship. Primary evidence of the relationship is a marriage certificate issued by civil authorities, and proof of termination of all prior marriages of the self-petitioner. Evidence of good faith marriage may include, but is not limited to, proof that one spouse has been listed on insurance policies, property leases, income tax forms, or bank accounts; and testimonies or other evidence regarding courtship, wedding ceremony, shared residences and experiences. Other types of evidence include birth certificates of children born to the marriage, police, medical or court documents providing information about the relationship; and affidavits of persons with personal knowledge of the relationship.

Evidence of abuse may include, but is not limited to, reports and affidavits from police, judges and other court officials, medical personnel, school officials, clergy, social workers, and other social service agency personnel. Persons who have obtained an order of protection against the abuser or have taken other steps to end the abuse are strongly encouraged to submit copies of the relating documents. Evidence that the abuse victim sought safe haven in a battered women’s shelter, documents of physically injured self-petitioner and affidavits would be also be relevant.

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ATTY. RHEA SAMSON is the principal of SAMSON LAW FIRM, P.C. She has been a member of the State Bar of California for over 15 years and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for over 20 years. Atty. Samson received her Legal Management degree from the Ateneo de Manila University and her Juris Doctor degree from the Ateneo Law School. She was a Professor for over 10 years, teaching Obligations and Contracts, Labor Laws and Social Legislation and Taxation Law. Atty Samson is the author of The Law on Obligations and Contracts (2016), Working with Labor Laws-Revised Edition (2014) and Working with Labor Laws (2005).

SAMSON LAW FIRM, P.C., 3580 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 1710, Los Angeles, CA 90010; Phone: (213) 3815710; Email: info@samsonlawfirmpc.com.

Atty. Rhea Samson
Atty. Rhea Samson

ATTY. RHEA SAMSON is the principal of SAMSON LAW FIRM, PC. She has been a member of the State Bar of California for over 15 years and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for over 20 years. Atty. Samson received her Legal Management degree from the Ateneo de Manila University and her Juris Doctor degree from the Ateneo Law School. She was a Professor for over 10 years, teaching Obligations and Contracts, Labor Laws and Social Legislation and Taxation Law. Atty. Samson is the author of The Law on Obligations and Contracts (2016), Working with Labor Laws-Revised Edition (2014) and Working with Labor Laws (2005). Visit our office at SAMSON LAW FIRM, P.C., 3580 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 1710, Los Angeles, CA 90010; Phone: (213) 381-5710; Email: info@samsonlawfirmpc.com.

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