Permanent Residency for Abused Spouses/Children

Foreign nationals who are married to U.S. citizens or permanent residents are allowed to apply  for immigrant visas (green cards) through their spouses. However, in some instances these individuals are subject to extreme abuses by their U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouses who use their immigration petitioning power as a leverage against them. An abused spouse includes: 1) someone who in good faith believed they were married but was subject to bigamy, 2) someone who was married but the abusing spouse died within the past two years or lost or renounced his/her citizenship or lawful permanent resident status due to abuse, 3) someone who demonstrates a connection between the legal termination of the marriage within the past 2 years and the battering/extreme cruelty by the US citizen or permanent resident spouse/parent. In order to protect foreign nationals against such situations, the law allows them in most cases, to independently file for certain immigrant petitions. This option is also available to abused foreign born children of U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

An eligible self-petitioning abused spouse or child must demonstrate that:

  • He/she resided with U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse/parent;
  • Was battered (or subject to extreme cruelty) during marriage;
  • His/her marriage was entered into in good faith;
  • Is otherwise eligible for Immediate Relative Petition or preference status; and
  • Has good moral character.

The foreign national does not have to be married at the time the petition is properly filed with the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS).

DISCLAIMER: The information given in this website is intended as general information only and is not a substitute for the services of an immigration attorney in your specific case.