Thursday, November 17, 2011

Relief from DEPORTATION: VAWA Cancellation

By Monica Ganjoo

QUESTION:  What is VAWA Cancellation of Removal?
ANSWER:  VAWA Cancellation of Removal provides a deportation defense to domestic violence victims who are in removal proceedings in immigration court.  These individuals are in front of an immigration judge, and the Government is trying to remove them from the United States.  While it is not a new defense, many individuals, including attorneys, do not know much about it.
QUESTION:  What eligibility do you have to show in order to apply for VAWA Cancellation in immigration court?
ANSWER:  You must show the following six items:  1) Battery or extreme cruelty by a United States citizen or Legal Permanent Resident (green card holder) or battery to your child if that child is also the child of a United States citizen or Legal Permanent Resident; 2) Physical presence in the United States for three or more years before the VAWA application and notice to appear for removal proceedings (if it can be shown that any absence was connected to the violence experienced, this is not a bar to filing for VAWA); 3) Good moral character while in the United States (there are exceptions for acts or convictions that are tied to the violence suffered by the applicant); 4) Not otherwise inadmissible or deportable under the immigration law; 5) No convictions of aggravated felonies; AND 6) Evidence that removal would result in extreme hardship to the applicant, the child of the applicant, or the parent of the applicant.
QUESTION:  Who can apply for the VAWA Cancellation?
ANSWER:  The following individuals are eligible to apply:  1) Former spouse or child of United States citizen or Legal Permanent Resident, regardless of when death, divorce, or termination of parent-child relationship occurred; 2) Former or current spouse or child of someone who was formerly a United States citizen or Legal Permanent Resident, but has lost that status for any reason; or 3) Individual with child in common with former United States citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident, where the child in common was abused by the United States citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident.
QUESTION:  What is the difference between VAWA Cancellation and VAWA I-360?  
ANSWER:  There are several differences.  The main difference is that you can apply for VAWA Cancellation only if you are in removal proceedings (in front of an immigration judge).  Unlike the I-360, where the decision is to be decided by the Citizenship and Immigration Services, the VAWA Cancellation is to be decided by the immigration judge.  VAWA Cancellation can be applied for people that do not qualify for the I-360.  The following individuals can apply for VAWA Cancellation, even though they are not qualified to apply for the VAWA I-360:  1) Abused spouse who was divorced for over two years from the abuser; 2) Abused spouse of Legal Permanent Resident who has died or any abused children of a United States Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident parent who has died; 3) Parent of an abused child who was never married to the child’s abusive United States citizen or Legal Permanent Resident parent; 4) Abused stepchild whose immigrant parent has been divorced from the abusive parent for over two years; 5) Abused spouse or child whose citizen parent gave up citizenship or lost Legal Permanent Resident status for over two years; 6) Victims of incest or child abuse who were abused while they were under 21, but failed to file I-360 and who are now over 21; 7) Victims of child abuse who cannot establish that they have resided with the abuser.
QUESTION:  What do I have to provide to the immigration court?
ANSWER:  You must show that you had a relationship with the abuser by providing evidence such as marriage and/or birth certificates, depending on the relationship you had with the abuser.  You must provide evidence to prove that you were continuously present in the United States for a period of three years prior to filing your applicant.  You must prove that during your stay in the United States, you were subject to extreme cruelty or abuse by the United States citizen or Legal Permanent Resident.  You must prove that you are a person of good moral character and that you or your abused child or your parent will suffer from extreme hardship if you are deported from the United States.  
QUESTION:  What is the most difficult part of the VAWA Cancellation?
ANSWER:  The most difficult evidence to show in court is that extreme hardship will exist if the applicant is forced to be removed from the United States.  The following items can be shown as evidence:  1) The need for access to the United States court system, such as criminal justice system and family courts in order to support child support, maintenance, and custody agreements; 2) The need for medical services not readily available in the country that applicant is to be deported to; 3) The laws or customs in the country that the applicant is to be deported to that would penalize the applicant or his/her children for being domestic violence victims; 4) The abuser’s ability to follow the applicant to the country that he/she is to be deported to; 5) The chance that the abusers family or friends could victimize the applicant or his/her children in the country that the applicant is to be deported to.
QUESTION:  What do you do if you are not in removal proceedings (in front of an immigration judge) but you want to apply for VAWA Cancellation?
ANSWER:  You can turn yourself in to the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and request to be placed in deportation/removal proceedings.  Do NOT take this step without consulting with an immigration attorney.  Once you are placed in deportation/removal proceedings, you will then be required to appear in court.  At this point, you can apply for the VAWA Cancellation, along with supporting evidence, in order to prove your case.  You will then have a hearing.  The immigration judge with then decide whether or not to grant you this relief.  If granted, you will obtain your Legal Permanent Resident (green card) status.  If denied, and you do not have other avenues to becoming legal, then you will receive a removal order.  
For more information, call Attorney Monica Ganjoo for a consultation.
Ganjoo Law Offices currently offer a consultation with Attorney Monica Ganjoo in San Francisco or San Jose for only $25 (phone consultations also available for $50).  The Staff of Ganjoo Law Offices speak a total of six different languages.  For a consultation with Monica Ganjoo, call one of her offices below:

870 Market Street, Suite 340
San Francisco, CA  94102
(415) 495-3710

111 W. St. John Street, Suite 513
San Jose, CA  95113
(408) 975-0500

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