The Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005 introduced provisions to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), allowing abused nonimmigrant spouses to apply for employment authorization if they entered the United States as the spouse of an A, E-3, G, or H nonimmigrant.
This policy enables victims to pursue safety and independence through valid employment authorization without being dependent on their abusive spouse. The employment authorization provisions are gender-neutral, applying to both men and women and are initially valid for 2 years and can be renewed in specific situations. The Employment Authorization provision for Abused Nonimmigrant Spouses provides a crucial lifeline for individuals facing domestic abuse. By understanding the eligibility criteria and adhering to the filing requirements, victims can empower themselves with the means to seek safety and independence discreetly.
1. Qualifying Marital Relationship:
- You must be the qualifying spouse who accompanied or followed your nonimmigrant spouse admitted under A, E-3, G, or H nonimmigrant status.
- To establish eligibility, you must provide credible evidence demonstrating your marital relationship, whether currently married or within two years of the spouse's demise, loss of nonimmigrant status due to domestic violence, or termination of marriage linked to battery or extreme cruelty.
2. Last Admission Status:
- You must have been last admitted to the United States in A, E-3, G, or H nonimmigrant status.
3. Experience of Abuse:
- You or your child must have experienced battering or extreme cruelty perpetrated by your nonimmigrant spouse during the marriage and after admission to the U.S. under A, E-3, G, or H nonimmigrant status.
4. Current U.S. Residence:
- You must currently reside in the United States.
Applicants must submit the Application for Employment Authorization for Abused Nonimmigrant Spouse, along with the following documents:
1. Proof of Admission:
Evidence of your admission to the U.S. in A, E-3, G, or H nonimmigrant status.
2. Spouse's Admission Proof:
Evidence of your principal nonimmigrant spouse's admission to the U.S. in A, E-3, G, or H nonimmigrant status. Although direct documentation might be challenging, providing identifying information is crucial.
3. Abuse Evidence:
Evidence of abuse, such as police reports, court records, medical records, social service reports, or affidavits. A protective court order, if obtained, should be included.
4. Marital Relationship Evidence:
Evidence establishing your qualifying marital relationship with the principal nonimmigrant spouse.
5. Residence Proof:
Evidence of your current residence in the U.S.
Two color passport-style photographs.
There is no filing fee for this process.
Current process time is 9.5 months but this can vary. Please check USCIS process times here for updates: Processing Times (uscis.gov)
If you continue to meet the initial filing requirements, renewal of employment authorization is possible. Evidence of abuse need not be resubmitted, and both initial authorizations and renewals are issued for two-year intervals.
If an individual in the United States on nonimmigrant status experiences abuse or extreme cruelty, it is crucial to seek immediate consultation with an experienced immigration attorney. Such a professional can carefully assess the circumstances and identify potential relief options within the immigration laws. In these instances, a skilled immigration attorney can provide guidance throughout the filing process and help ascertain if there are more enduring forms of immigration relief available.
Please contact Verma Law Firm to discuss the process for Employment Authorization and your options to extend lawful status in the United States.
Do you need help?
Help is available for victims of domestic violence through the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TDD). The hotline offers information about shelters, mental health care, legal advice, and assistance with immigration status. For further details, visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline website.