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Approved Petition Under Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

Approved Petition Under Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

  • Applicant: Ms. Tsai-Franklin
  • Nationality: Taiwan
  • Applying for: Form I-360 Petition for Amerasian Widower, or Special Immigrant
  • Case Type: I-360 Petition for Special Immigrant Battered or Abused Spouse
  • Time: 18 months
  • Challenges:
    • Proving abuse was legitimate due to not a lot of physical evidence of abuse.
    • The client had limited financial resources.
    • The client felt an imminent threat from the spouse but had nowhere to go.

     

    BACKGROUND

    When Ms. Tsai first saw Mr. Franklin at a social gathering in Taiwan, she was smitten. He was a tall, handsome American man wearing a nice suit. He stunned her when he picked her out of a crowd of women to ask her to dance. A flirtation later evolved into a series of dates and eventually marriage. She never imagined seven months after becoming Ms. Tsai-Franklin she would have to file a restraining order against him.

    Ms. Tsai-Franklin left a good job and her family back in Taiwan to make a new life with her new husband in the United States. In the first few months, their relationship was romantic and full of plans for a bright future. As the spouse of a U.S. citizen, Ms. Tsai-Franklin applied to become a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) and receive her green card. The couple had paid nearly $3,000 to a different law firm for guidance on simultaneously submitting the I-130 Petition for Alien Relative and the I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

    However, when the relationship began to crumble, so did Ms. Tsai-Franklin’s hopes of getting her green card and advancing along the path of becoming a U.S. citizen. Mr. Franklin even wrote a vindictive letter to the United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) denouncing his wife. Ms.

     

    KEYS TO SUCCESS

    After a thorough consultation, Tsang and Associates happily informed Ms. Tsai-Franklin that she could still petition for her green card without involving her husband. Under a special provision through the USCIS, a battered spouse could file an immigrant visa petition under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The VAWA provisions allow certain spouses to file a petition for themselves without the abuser’s knowledge. This allows victims to seek both safety and independence from their abuser. The abusive spouse would not even be notified about the filing. While this was good news, Ms. Tsai-Franklin still faced several challenges that Tsang and Associates would have to help her address. First was proving Ms. Tsai-Franklin was truly a victim of abuse. In her case, she’d never filed a police report nor gone to a hospital to report her injuries, so there was no official documentation of abuse. Second, Ms. Tsai-Franklin had no financial means to pay for legal services and finally, she felt in fear for her safety at the hands of Mr. Franklin.

    At Tsang and Associates, her terrible situation touched our hearts. Any competent lawyer could file paperwork, but our firm prides itself on providing personal service and comfort. Our first order of business was to find Ms. Tsai-Franklin safe shelter without expense to her. Next, we assured her we could help under a nearly pro bono basis, by piggy-backing off the legal paperwork she’d already had prepared and paid for. Then the firm planned a detailed package to present to the USCIS.

    After several months, Tsang and Associates submitted a package to the USCIS for I-130 Petition for Special Immigrant Battered or Abused Spouse. The package began with a description of the Violence Against Women Act (1994) and how Ms. Tsai-Franklin qualified for protection under the law. The Attorney Brief defined the nature of “preponderance of the evidence”, documented her abuser’s U.S. citizenship, provided a copy of their marriage certificate, evidence Ms. Tsai-Franklin lives in the U.S., and evidence that the couple lived together. However, proving the abuse would be difficult. Tsang and Associates helped Ms. Tsai-Franklin collect affidavits from friends and relatives who were witnesses to the abuse. Surprisingly, even the mother of Mr. Franklin wrote an affidavit on Ms. Tsai-Franklin’s behalf and against her own son. She described her son’s habitual heavy drinking and documented bipolar disorder. The affidavits testified to incidents of false imprisonment, hair pulling, and her need to seek personal safety by running away. A therapist also wrote an affidavit after consulting with Ms. Tsai-Franklin detailing incidents of marital rape. To address concerns that a USCIS officer might think the marriage was a sham, the firm provided vacation photos, joint bills, joint bank accounts, and evidence of co-ownership of their home.

    The package concluded with the following statement:

    “Evidence presented throughout the case proves Ms. Tsai-Franklin is a victim of emotional, psychological, and physical abuse from her spouse. She came to the U.S. in hopes of acquiring a happy and loving marriage with a man who flew to Taiwan to court her. Instead, she received abuse to the point where she no longer can trust or love anyone, spent months living in fear, pain, and depression, and too scared of the consequences to take action. Spouses’ mother attests her claims are true. We believe she qualifies under the WAVA was created for this specific purpose and she meets the criteria.”

     

    OUTCOME

    A month later, Tsang and Associates received notice from the USCIS stating Prima facie determination for classification under the Violence Against Women Act had been reviewed and granted. Ms. Tsai-Franklin received her green card and has already found employment. She has not yet started dating again but is hopeful to one day meet a good man. Tsang and Associates are honored to have helped her through the most difficult time of her life and put her on the road to reaching her dream of becoming a U.S. citizen.

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