An immigrant husband of a U.S. citizen or green card holder can be in a vulnerable position having to rely on his wife to apply for his work permit and green card. Sometimes, wives use their legal status as leverage to wield power and control over their husbands. Abusive relationships often conjure the image of a man as the abuser, making it harder to recognize that men can also be subjected to abuse. When immigration status becomes a factor, the complexity of the situation intensifies, and feelings of hopelessness can take hold. In this article we will discuss the intricacies of VAWA, and specially of VAWA for Men: how to recognize the signs of abuse and how to reach out and file a petition.

Recognizing the Signs 

Certain marital problems rise to the level of abuse, making an immigrant spouse eligible to apply for a work permit and green card on their own without their spouse’s help. The signs may not always be immediately evident, and individuals may struggle to identify the abuse. Common indicators of an abusive relationship may include verbal abuse, belittlement, constant accusations of infidelity, attempts to control your movements and social interactions, manipulation to maintain control over your immigration status, or financial control. 

VAWA for Men: Filing a Self-Petition Under VAWA 

If your spouse has not initiated the process for your permanent resident status, or if you have an immigration petition pending with your spouse, filing a self-petition under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) can provide a way to protect your case from your spouse’s unpredictable behavior. Getting a work permit and green card through VAWA can be an option for you even if you entered the U.S. without legal status, worked illegally, or are now separated or divorced. 

Eligibility Criteria 

The eligibility of VAWA for men works in the same way as it would with any person that’s going through extreme cruelty from their spouse. To be eligible for a VAWA, the following criteria must be met: 

  1. Experience of Abuse: You must have experienced battery or extreme cruelty during your marriage to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. 
  1. Good Faith Marriage: Your marriage to your spouse was entered into in good faith. 
  1. Residence with Abusive Spouse: You must have lived with your spouse. 
  1. Good Moral Character: You have not been convicted of certain very serious crimes. 

VAWA for Men: Documenting the Case 

In a VAWA case, you must demonstrate that you have experienced battery or extreme cruelty at the hands of your spouse. Battery and extreme cruelty can include physical violence, emotional or psychological abuse, sexual abuse, threats, manipulation, control and intimidation. If you do not have documents or other evidence of the abuse, your honest and detailed declaration explaining what you have experienced can be used as proof of the abuse. At Whitaker Legal, our VAWA professionals interview our clients about their relationship and then draft thorough, compelling affidavits that show USCIS how our client meets every element required to approve their VAWA case. 

The Benefits of VAWA 

Why endure this process? An approved VAWA petition offers several potential benefits, including a work permit, travel authorization, deferred action (protection against deportation), and a clear path to a green card without relying on your spouse’s involvement, knowledge, or fear of potential sabotage. Taking the brave step to break free from an abusive relationship and pursue the legal remedies offered by VAWA can lead to healing, independence, and legal relief. If you believe you qualify for VAWA protection, it’s essential to consult with an experienced immigration attorney who can provide personalized guidance tailored to your unique circumstances. At Whitaker Legal, we specialize in assisting individuals who may be eligible for VAWA, regardless of gender, to obtain the support they need. Contact us today and let us be your ally in your journey towards safety, security, and a brighter future. Your path to healing and legal relief begins here.