Did you know that if you self-petition for a Green Card under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), your child may also be able to get a Green Card as a derivative beneficiary? Not only can you safely pursue the opportunity to stay in the United States and become a Permanent Resident through VAWA, but you can protect your children as well. Read on to find out more about how you can petition for you and your children to safely obtain Green Cards under VAWA!

Basics of VAWA

VAWA allows for victims of domestic abuse and violence to petition for a Green Card, and become a Lawful Permanent Resident, without the knowledge or consent of their abusive family member. VAWA is an option available to both men and women, that allows the victim to seek safety and get legal status, when they are being abused by an U.S. Citizen spouse, parent or child or an abusive Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) spouse or parent. The VAWA self-petition also allows the self-petitioner’s family members such as children, called derivatives, to apply for a Green Card at the same time or later based on the self-petitioner’s pending or approved VAWA petition. This means that a victim, without immigration status, does not have to stay with an abusive family member out of fear of being removed from the United States or due to fearing harm or removal for their dependent children.

Who is eligible to become a derivative child beneficiary based on a parent’s VAWA Green Card Application?

To be eligible for a Green Card as a derivative family member of a VAWA self-petitioner, your child must be unmarried, under 21 years of age. However, your non-U.S. citizen child cannot file as a derivative if you are self-petitioning as the parent of another U.S. citizen child of yours, who is abusing you.

What are the requirements?

A separate application, including supporting documentation, needs to be filed for your child to get the Green Card. Additionally, the following requirements must be met for the Green Card application to be approved:

  • A properly filed Adjustment of Status (Green Card) application;
  • The child must be physically present in the U.S. at the time of filing the Green Card application;
  • An immigrant visa is immediately available to your child;
  • None of the bars to adjust status apply to the child;
  • The child is admissible to the U.S. for Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status or otherwise is eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility; and
  • The derivative family member applying is your child, and the child is unmarried and under 21 years of age.

What happens if your child turns 21?

In certain instances, the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) allows for some 21-year-olds to be still categorized as children for immigration purposes, depending on when the VAWA petition is filed and the child’s age at the time of filing. Thankfully, the CPSA includes the children of VAWA petitioners. Additionally, the child may also be eligible for protection under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA). While these protections are available, it is still important to ensure that you petition for your child to obtain a Green Card as soon as possible.

If you think that you and/or your child qualify for relief under the VAWA, please contact us for an assessment by an VAWA immigration attorney, who can guide you through the process.

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