USCIS announces changes when deciding VAWA petitions. A VAWA (stands for “Violence Against Women Act”) petition may be filed by an immigrant who suffered domestic violence at the hands of an abusive U.S. citizen or permanent resident family member, usually a spouse. If approved, the VAWA petition may form the basis of obtaining legal permanent residence for the victim without any involvement from the abuser. USCIS announces these key changes:
- USCIS updated its interpretation of VAWA to allow the applicant to the meet the shared residence requirement by showing proof of shared residence with the domestic abuser at any time in the past, instead of only during the marital or parent-child relationship.
- In determining an applicant’s good moral character, an applicant’s prior criminal act or conviction may be excused if the crime was somehow connected to the abuse suffered by the applicant, meaning there was a “causal or logical relationship” between the abuse and the commission of the offense.
- Stepchildren and stepparents continue to be eligible for VAWA even if the parent and stepparent divorced.