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690 Flatbush Avenue West Hartford, CT  06110-1308

860 236-9350             800 856-6400  toll free     860 523-9101  fax

27 Holmes Avenue Downtown Waterbury 203 756-6100


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Immigration Self-Petitions by Battered Spouses or Children

    In 1994, the U.S. Congress passed an immigration law that allows spouses of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents to petition for permanent residency (a green card) on their own if they have been victims of domestic violence (battered) by a spouse who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.  Unmarried children under 21 may be included on the petition.  Battered children may also petition on their own.

    To petition on their own (self-petition), a battered souse must meet the following requirements:


He or she is legally married to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.

A self-petition may also be filed if there was a divorce during the 2 years before filing and the divorce was related to the domestic violence.


A self-petition may also be filed if the abusive spouse died within 2 years before filing.


He or she married in good faith and not just to obtain permanent residency.


While married, he or she (or his or her child) was the victim of domestic violence or extreme cruelty by the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse.


The domestic violence must have happened in the U.S. unless the abusive spouse is a U.S. government employee or in the U.S. military.


He or she is of good moral character.


He or she must provide documents to support the claim of domestic violence.


He or she has not remarried.  (Remarriage after the self-petition is approved will not invalidate the petition).

    If the immigration service is satisfied that the petition filed by the battered spouse (or child) is reasonable, the service will send a notice to the spouse that can be used to apply for public assistance benefits.

    Once the self-petition is approved, the battered spouse (or child) is usually allowed to stay and work in the U.S. even if the spouse (or child) does not have valid legal immigration status.

    Approved self-petitioners who are immediate relatives of U.S. citizens (spouses and unmarried children under 21) will have an immigrant visa number immediately available and can file right away to adjust their status to a permanent resident (obtain a green card).

    Approved self-petitioners who are or were married to legal residents must wait for a visa number to become available before adjusting to permanent residency.  If the abusive spouse had already filed an immigration petition for the battered spouse, the priority date from the first petition may be transferred to the self-petition.

    A National Domestic Violence Hotline (800 799-7233) exists to provide victims of domestic violence with information about shelters, mental health care, legal advice and other types of assistance.

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