There are a number of ways in which someone may be able to immigrate to the United States. However, one of the most common is marriage. When a marriage dissolves between a petitioner and their spouse due to domestic violence, a number of complications for the immigrant spouse may arise. This is especially so if all of their immigration documents have not been previously submitted. It is crucial to have a matrimonial attorney who has knowledge and experience with immigration law to guide you through the complicated processes.
Under normal circumstances, a United States citizen or a lawful permanent resident may file an application for their immigrant spouse to be admitted into the United States. In order to do so, there are certain procedures that must be followed. This includes submitting documentation to cover the period of the marriage, in order to show that it was not entered into for purposes of immigration. Additionally, there must be bona fides of marriage, and affidavits sworn to or affirmed by third parties having personal knowledge of the marital relationship.
Under certain circumstances an immigrant spouse may file a self-petition. Pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act sections 204(a)(1)(A)(iii) or 204(a)(1)(B)(ii), a spouse may file for self-petition if the following factors are met: (1) he or she is the spouse of a citizen or permanent resident; (2) he or she was eligible to be admitted under other aspects of the Act; (3) he or she is currently residing in the United States and previously was residing in the United States with the petitioner spouse; (4) deportation would cause hardship; and (5) they have been battered by or have been the subject of extreme cruelty by the petitioner spouse. Under those sections of the Act, the self-petitioner may be eligible if the spouse is the parent of a child who has been battered by, or has been the subject of extreme cruelty perpetrated by, the petitioner.
The Act provides very detailed definitions on what may be considered “extreme cruelty.” The phrase includes but is not limited to, being the victim of any act or threatened act of violence, including forceful detention, which results or threatens to result in physical or mental injury. It also includes psychological or sexual abuse or exploitation, including rape, molestation, incest, or forced prostitution. There may be other acts included under the umbrella of “extreme cruelty” that, in and of themselves, may not initially appear violent, but are part of an overall pattern of violence.
If you are looking for more information about the intersection of immigration law and matrimonial law, be sure to contact Sandelands Eyet LLP at (908)470-1200 to get in contact with our highly trained attorneys.