FACEBOOK LIVE – VAWA – 06/24/2021

As always our hosts were happy to receive you, our “Lincolncitos”, with all your greetings, comments, and questions about your cases – as we do every Tuesday and Thursday on Facebook!

Today, joining in our ongoing discussion about the issues facing the immigrant community, we were accompanied by Fidel Campuzano, attorney Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch, and Karla Arevalo.

It is important to keep in mind that everyone who is undocumented is a victim- a victim of having to leave their country of origin for various reasons: economic, religious, because of their sexual preferences, etc. A victim of having to migrate to another country where they do not speak the native language and where they are undocumented. We want you to know that this is a safe space. You and your family are completely protected. When you contact us, all of your information will be handled confidentially.

Our focus today is on domestic violence which, as Fidel mentioned, includes all forms of physical, emotional, or any other type of violence that is experienced within the home. Attorney Kate added that it is not only physical and/or sexual violence that must be considered there are also forms of violence in which one partner’s actions are limited and controlled (leaving the house, spending money, talking to friends, going out with friends, having a job, etc.), and which damage the dynamics of the home and the couple. The cases we handle at Lincoln-Goldfinch usually begin with these types of violent attitudes and behaviors.

One of our followers sent us the following message: “I married an American citizen, we still live together. The relationship is sometimes good, sometimes not so good. I give her all my money, she doesn’t let me know what she spends it on and sometimes she’ll beat me up or slap me around a bit if I think of going out on Friday nights. Does this help me? Does it hurt me? I’m very afraid because she’s an American citizen.”

In a case like this, a program called VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) applies, which applies to anyone in a domestic violence situation, whether male, female or non-binary, or in a heterosexual or homosexual relationship. As immigration attorney Kate informed us, it is very common to see this type of situation in the cases she handles on a daily basis. She told us that it is not necessary to have filed a report with the police, or if you have already divorced your spouse you may still be eligible up to two years after the divorce and as long as the victim of violence has not married someone else.

Concerning the VAWA Visa, Kate indicated that in the state of Texas specifically there is a “Common Law Marriage”. Thus, to be married, it is only necessary that you live with your spouse and that you tell other people that you are married. It is possible to register an Informal Marriage if any physical evidence is necessary, and as Kate advises, it is a much quicker process than a traditional marriage and is just as valid under State law. Among the cases we receive on a daily basis it is very common to find instances where two people lived together for many years and were never legally married, but they did live together, had children together, did their taxes together, and the community where they lived together recognized them as spouses. According to Texas state law, it would qualify as a legal marriage.

Another of our viewers asked us “(…) I went over the river and I have a 21 year old son, he is about to turn 22. He is a citizen. Could I arrange a work permit?”. Normally someone who enters without a visa and wants to be petitioned for their son must complete this process through the Consulate. In order to qualify for Adjustment of Status within the United States it is necessary to have entered with a visa, have a family member serving in the Armed Forces, or have been petitioned for prior to April 2001. According to this information, the conclusion reached by attorney Kate is that it is not possible to adjust status to Permanent Resident status through a child who wants to apply for it. However, in the event that the child has mistreated the parent in some way, this case could qualify for VAWA and it would be a much easier process in which it would not be necessary to leave the country or apply for a pardon. Also, it is important to remember that the evidence that is submitted with a VAWA application is not equivalent to a police report, it is simply a packet of information that is provided to Immigration and will not be forwarded to the authorities.

If you are a victim of violence, and both your abuser and you are undocumented, there is another option for you. Kate mentioned the option of obtaining a U Visa. In this case, a police report would be required, as well as a certification issued by the Police, unlike VAWA.

Please remember that the answers provided by immigration and bankruptcy attorney Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch do not imply an attorney-represented relationship but are given as a general response to the stories that are submitted to us. If you would like us to evaluate your specific case confidentially, you may contact us at 888-6-GUARDIANAS.

Remember that at Lincoln-Goldfinch Law we also provide legal advice for immigrants in bankruptcy cases. We have attorneys who are experts in this area and are ready to help you. You can call or text us at 888-6-GUARDIANAS and we will contact you to schedule your free consultation.