November 25, 2013 is
International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Here are just a few of the alarming
statistics that underscore the importance of recognizing such a day and taking part
in ending violence against women. From the United Nations:
- 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not yet
considered a crime.
- 100 to 140 million girls and women in the world today have experienced
female genital mutilation/cutting.
- Worldwide, up to 50% of sexual assaults are committed against girls under
the age of 16.
- Up to 7 in 10 women in the world report having experienced physical and/or
sexual violence at some point in their lifetime.
In 2008, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the UNiTE to End Violence
against Women campaign, aimed at intensifying action and awareness to
end violence against women and girls. The UNiTE campaign's
goals include raising public awareness and increasing political efforts and
resources for preventing and ending all forms of violence against women
and girls worldwide.
Last year, the UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign proclaimed
the 25th of every month as Orange Day, implemented to highlight issues
and increase activism efforts throughout the year relevant to preventing
and ending violence against women and girls. Today, in addition to being
the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, November
25th kicks off the UNiTE campaign's "16 Days of Activism against
Gender Violence," with the goal of inspiring global action to "Orange
the World in 16 Days." In the 16 days from November 25th to December
10th, people worldwide are encouraged to support the campaign by wearing
orange, spreading awareness through social media and other means, and
initiating their own initiatives to prevent and end violence against women
If you did not know about the significance of November 25th and did not
wear your orange today, you can still do your part. Thanks to the UNiTE
campaign and the efforts of its supporters globally, you will have your
chance during the 16 Days campaign and again on the 25th of every month.
Do what you can to spread awareness on those days, and others, as the
victims suffer daily.
VAWA and U.S. Immigration Laws for Victims of Domestic Abuse:
U.S. immigration laws provide
special measures for victims of domestic abuse under the Immigration and Nationality Act
(INA), as amended by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The INA carves
out special provisions for victims of domestic abuse. The provisions treat
women and men equally, and apply in areas such as waivers of inadmissibility
and removability, applications for permanent resident status (green card),
certain other forms of relief in removal (deportation) proceedings. For
example, as a battered spouse, child, or parent, certain foreign nationals
may self-petition for permanent resident status without the assistance
of the U.S. citizen or permanent resident abuser. By allowing this, U.S.
immigration laws give victims the ability to seek safety and independence
from their abusers, who are not notified about the applications.
In the context of filing for permanent resident status as a self-petitioning
battered or abused spouse or child of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent
resident, a foreign national will need to submit to the U.S. Citizenship
and Immigration Services
Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant. The Form I-360
requires a filing fee of $405, but that fee is waived if filing as a battered
or abused spouse or child of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
A foreign national may self-petition if he or she:
- Is currently the spouse or child of an abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident;
- Is eligible for immigrant classification based on that relationship;
- Is now residing in the U.S. or has resided in the U.S. with the citizen
or permanent resident abuser in the past;
Has been battered by or has been the subject of extreme cruelty by:
- The citizen or permanent resident spouse during marriage, or is the parent
of a child who has been battered by or has been the subject of extreme
cruelty perpetrated by the abusive citizen or permanent resident spouse
during their marriage;
- The citizen or permanent resident parent while residing with that parent;
- Is a person of good moral character, as defined by immigration law;
- Is a person whose removal or deportation would result in extreme hardship
to the self-petitioner, or to his or her child if he or she is a spouse; and
- Entered into marriage to the citizen or permanent resident abuser in good
faith, if filing as a spouse.
It is important to document the abuse in what ways are available, such
as medical records, mental health records, photographs, police reports/statements,
court records, and affidavits/letters from the victim, witnesses, and
others with knowledge of the abuse such as school officials, clergy, medical
personnel, social workers, and other social service agency personnel.
Additional documentation is required to support the I-360 Petition, including:
- Evidence of the abuser's U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status;
- Marriage and divorce decrees, birth certificates, or other evidence of
the legal relationship to the abuser;
- Documentation showing shared residence with the abuser;
- Documentation showing current residence in the U.S.;
- Evidence of extreme hardship that would result if the self-petitioner were
removed (deported) from the U.S.;
- If the self-petitioner is more than 14 years old, his or her affidavit
of good moral character accompanied by a local police clearance, State-issued
criminal background check, or similar report from each locality or State
in the U.S. or abroad in which the self-petitioner has resided for 6 or
more months during the 3 years immediately preceding the filing of the
- If filing as a spouse of the abuser, proof that the marriage was entered
in good faith. (E.g., evidence of shared residence and joint assets).
The VAWA provisions are vital aspects of U.S. immigration laws, protecting
and empowering victims of abuse by citizens or residents, who no doubt
use "immigration status" as a device of abuse, intimidation,
and control. Through the special provisions, victims of domestic abuse
can stand on their own to obtain immigration relief and benefits in the country.
*The above article is for informational purposes only and does not serve
as legal advice. If you have questions about VAWA or other areas of U.S.
immigration, contact an experienced immigration attorney.