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Battered Spouse Petition-Based Adjustment of Status Victory

Sep 15, 2010 | adjustment of status, VAWA

Today, we successfully helped one of our clients become a permanent resident of the United States.

Our client, a woman from St. Lucia, was a victim of spousal abuse at the hands of her United States citizen husband, to whom she remains married to this day (but does not live with him).  When she came to us in 2007, her case did not appear very strong in terms of filing a battered spouse petition, Form I-360, which allows a battered spouse of a United States citizen to self-petition for permanent residency (as opposed to the traditional method of the U.S. citizen spouse sponsoring the foreign national spouse for permanent residency).

The requirements to self-petition as a battered spouse are not easy, and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services closely reviews the claim and the evidence to determine whether the claim of abuse by a U.S. citizen spouse is a legitimate claim, such that it warrants allowing the foreign national spouse to pursue permanent residency on his or her own.

The difficulty presented by our client’s case was not unique.  She did not have a lot of evidence of her married life with her U.S. citizen husband.  She had blocked out of her mind numerous incidents of abuse, so she could not clearly recall or explain each instance of abuse she had suffered.  She did not make police reports against her husband out of fear that he would hurt her.  She did not tell her friends or family about the abuse she suffered at home.  So we had to begin with very little evidence in support of her claim of abuse.

But working with her for a few hours a day for a few weeks, we were able to learn from her many things she had never discussed with anyone else (and that she didn’t want to discuss, but it is, afterall, our job to get relevant information from our clients, no matter how difficult the subject matter!).  We worked with her to draft a detailed statement discussing her life, marriage, abuse, and what she hoped to achieve in the future.

However, the USCIS was not convinced and asked her to submit evidence – basically, evidence that did not exist.  Our client was frustrated and was ready to give up, throw in the towel, leave the country, and pretty much forget that her life in the United States ever existed!  Again, we worked with her to creatively address the USCIS’ concerns about her claim, pointing the USCIS to the reality of domestic abuse situations and explaining why she did not have the evidence USCIS wanted her to produce.

Our client was not optimistic that her visa petition would be approved.  But it was!  We received an approval notice late last year, and with that approval notice, we were able to pursue her adjustment of status application, as well as file a petition for her two children overseas to join her here after she became a permanent resident!

Today, we accompanied our client to her adjustment of status interview, where the interviewing officer gave her the best news of her life: “Welcome to the United States!  Your application for permanent residency will be approved.”  She could not believe this was really happening.  She was going to get to stay in the United States lawfully.  She will have a chance to reunite with her children in a few months.  She will have a chance to become a citizen of the United States.  When she realized all of the doors that have now opened up for her, it was overwhelming for her and she burst out in tears.  Tears of joy.

She thanked us for not letting HER give up in pursuing her case.  She knew she had to go through with this for herself and for her children.  We knew we couldn’t let her give up.  She inspired us more than she realizes!  We cannot wait to meet her children in the coming months!

Ruchi Thaker