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Legal Information: Federal

Immigration

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Updated: 
May 17, 2021

When do I apply for a battered spouse or child waiver?

Normally, you would file a “joint petition” with your spouse or parent to get lawful permanent residence without any “conditions” during the 90 days before your conditional permanent residence expires.1 If the spouse or parent who filed for you is an abuser, however, VAWA allows you to file a “waiver” of this requirement based on abuse.2 The abuse could have taken place at any time, even after your conditional permanent residence has expired.3 To avoid the risk of being placed in removal proceedings, however, you should file the waiver before your conditional permanent residence expires.

By filing for a battered spouse or child waiver, this means you won’t need your abusive spouse to sign any paperwork for you. Instead, you must work with your lawyer and domestic violence counselor to gather evidence of the abuse that you suffered as well as your “good faith marriage” and to file the correct paperwork. It will be very hard to get a waiver without help from an attorney and domestic violence advocate.

Our Immigration page lists national organizations working in the area of immigration law and our Finding a Lawyer page includes the contact information of legal organizations and lawyer referral services by state. You can find domestic violence advocates on our Advocates and Shelters page.

1 8 USC § 1186a(c)(1); INA § 216(c)(1)
2 8 USC § 1186a(c)(4)(C); INA § 216(c)(4)(C)
3Matter of Stowers, 22 I&N Dec. 605 (BIA 1999)