New Relief Available for Battered Spouses and Children Who File Self-Petitions for Legal Permanent R

There are several new changes in the law concerning the filing of battered spouse petitions for persons who filed I-485 applications for legal permanent residency (Green Card) in the new “Victims of Trafficking and Violence prevention act of 2000”. The new legislation has been passed and signed into law in an effort to grant relief to persons who have lost or are in danger of losing their ability to adjust to legal permanent residence because of violence in the home.

Among the changes cited in this new law is the ability of a battered spouse to file a petition for up to two years after the marriage ended either through the divorce or death of the legal permanent resident or U.S. Citizen spouse. Spouses of U.S. Military personnel who are currently living abroad are now eligible to self-petition.

In the case where a legal permanent resident spouse is deported and or has his status revoked within the last two years, in connection to domestic violence charges, the innocent spouse may still self-petition herself and her children. Demonstration of extreme hardship is no longer necessary in a battered spouse petition. “Derivatives” or sons and daughters of the self-petitioner who “age-out” will themselves become self-petitioners with the same priority date.

There is no greater tragedy than violence and abuse within the home. The purpose of the Self-Petition for battered spouses and children is to “release” persons who believe they are trapped in their marriage because they fear losing their status in the United States and being deported.

If you, a family member or someone you know is in a relationship where there is violence and abuse, and continue to stay in the marriage out of concern for the immigrant status of you and your children you should consider a self-petition as a battered spouse. Again, under the new law relief is available for already divorced persons or for the family in which the legal permanent resident has been convicted of domestic violence and battery and lost his legal permanent resident status to self-petition and sponsor his wife and children.

If you are in one of these situations, it is highly recommended that you seek reputable and qualified legal counsel immediately. A well-informed and qualified practitioner can inform you of your rights, and properly advise you as to how you should proceed with your immigration case.