Why is Living Together Required for a VAWA I-360 Application?

To apply for VAWA, living together is key proof. Even temporary separation may work, but shared residence is crucial. VAWA aims to help foreign-born survivors become legal permanent residents.

Living together, joint residence, is an act of courage. Too many who claimed to love me hurt me or I hurt them. The husband I did not marry also feared loss. Almost every person he loved – grandparents, parents, sisters, and wife – died. For fear of suffering the pain of loss again, for fear of losing a family, we kept separate homes and failed to build a family.

Similarly, a potential client also did not live with her US citizen husband of 10 years. He never filed for her residency. Instead, she spent that decade “visiting him” (her words) in the United States with a visitor visa and waiting for her husband to visit her in the home he bought in Costa Rica. One day, her husband sold the home and a realtor told her she had to move.

Proof of residence with VAWA Abuser Needed to Get Green Card

For several reasons, I could not help her apply for legal permanent residency through the Violence Against Women Act. Mainly, if they never lived together, how would I prove they were married? A survivor must reside (or have resided) with the abuser to be eligible for VAWA. Residence means living together at a shared address, if only for a few days. The abuser and survivor (spouses, parent/child, or adult child/parent) should have documents with that shared address: correspondence, drivers’ licenses, lease and mortgage documents, statements from financial institutions, or government agencies.

The survivor does not need to live with the abuser during the relationship. In one of my granted VAWA green card cases, the abuser spray painted his wife after the wedding. She spent the first night of her marriage at a hospital and never returned to live with the abusive husband.

VAWA Granted For Couple Not Living Together

I have also won cases where the couple live separately temporarily: studies, employment, family circumstances. Sadly, I also once lost a VAWA case for an Indian survivor whose abusive US citizen wife prohibited him from spending even one night at her home. She also refused to move her children into a home with him.

In a world of different cultures and customs, Immigration demands proof of residence because, traditionally, married couples live together. Even couples that do not marry live together. The foreign-born should keep documents to show that they are living with spouses, parents, and adult children in the U.S. Paradoxically, however, It is my wish that survivors leave those homes the moment abuse begins.

Disclaimer – These entries are based on real life events. Family member names, when used, are real. Client names are changed for privacy.

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