Battered Spouses


Bibicheff & Associates, P.C. is proud to have helped numerous victims of domestic abuse to obtain lawful status in the United States, which in turn helped them to get independence from their abusers. If you are a foreign national who has become a victim of abuse or extreme cruelty by your US citizen or permanent resident (Green Card holder) spouse, parent or child, you may be eligible to obtain a Green Card and eventually become a US citizen. You do not need to suffer in silence from abuse and/or cruelty to be legalized in the United States as the United States Government seeks to protect victims of abuse.

In the traditional family-based immigration process aliens must rely on their U.S. citizen or permanent resident relatives to file immigrant petitions on their behalf. Where the U.S. citizen or permanent resident sponsor is abusive, the foreign national victim may feel trapped in the relationship or feel that they have to obey the abuser in order to obtain lawful status. Congress first addressed this problem in 1990 by creating a battered spouse waiver for US conditional residents who otherwise had to file a Joint Petition to Remove Conditions of Residence (conditions on temporary Green Card) together with their abusive spouses. However, this cured only part of the problem, because many US citizen spouses, parents and children have never filed immigrant petitions for their foreign national relatives and used their control of the immigration process as a weapon of abuse and manipulation.

In order to obtain an immigrant visa, a self-petitioner needs to fulfill all of the following requirements:

  1. 1.   a) She or he shall be an abused parent, child, step-child, or spouse of an abusive U.S. citizen

(USC), or

  1. b) She or he shall be an abused child, step-child, or spouse of an abusive U.S. permanent

resident (LPR), or

  1. c) She or he shall be a non-abused spouse of an abusive US citizen (USC) or permanent resident (LPR) whose child was abused by USC or LPR.
  2.   If a self-petitioner is a spouse of USC or LPR, she or he shall demonstrate that she or he entered into the marriage with USC or LPR in good faith;
  3.   She or he has resided in the United States with the U.S. citizen or permanent resident abuser;
  4.   She or he presently resides in the United States;
  5.   She or he has been battered and/or subjected of extreme cruelty perpetrated by the U.S. citizen spouse/parent/ or child or permanent resident spouse/or parent;
  6.   She or he is a person of good moral character and has not committed aggravated felony;

Note: If the abuser was deported from the United States because of the abuse, the abused foreign national may self-petition within two years of the deportation of the abuser.



Extreme cruelty is a broad concept for immigration purposes, covering any kind of abuse designed to exert power, manipulation and control over the victim. It includes psychological, emotional and economic abuse, coercion, threats (to anyone or anything the victim cares about), intimidation, degradation, social isolation, possessiveness, manipulating and using immigration status, and harming children, family members and pets.

The following factors are considered for adjudication of VAWA cancellation and self-petition:

  • The need for access to courts and to the criminal justice system in the United States;
  • The victim’s need for and use of services or domestic victim support systems in the United States and victim’s ability to obtain similar services in his/her home country;
  • The lack of laws or enforcement of laws in the victim’s home country that protect victims of domestic violence, and the likelihood the abuser will follow the victim back (or already is there) to the victim’s home country;
  • The likelihood people in the victim’s home country (including his/her relatives or their community) will harm the victim;
  • The abuse the victim suffered was very severe or longstanding;
  • Laws, social mores, and customs in the victim’s home country that penalize or ostracize women who challenge the subordination of women, who are divorced, or who have adopted “Western” values; and
  • The application of all the above factors to the children.



The information contained herein does not establish an attorney-client relationship and does not constitute legal advice. Prior results depend on a number of factors unique to each matter and do not guarantee a similar outcome.