Being a victim of abuse is one of the most difficult, frightening, and traumatic situations that a person can experience. Unfortunately, immigrants to the United States face these experiences daily and are unsure of where to turn to for help. They may fear being deported from the country or facing further violence from their abuser. These fears are entirely understandable and removing oneself from an abusive situation should be done carefully.
ZafiroLaw was founded with situations like these in mind. Our team of experienced immigration attorneys offer compassionate representation for victims of domestic abuse and violence in the state of Washington. If you are facing abuse at the hands of an American citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident, seeking help is not only important but necessary. Through VAWA, a path to US citizenship is possible. To learn more about your options, consider contacting our Seattle-based office today at (206) 309-9645.
What Are the Benefits of United States Citizenship and What is Naturalization?
Naturalization refers to the process of becoming a United States citizen for individuals born outside of the country. Citizenship through naturalization is available to Lawful Permanent Residents in the United States and is a voluntary act, meaning it is not required. Many people seek naturalization due to the benefits associated with citizenship in the United States, including the right to vote in federal elections and eligibility for certain federal benefits and grants. Moreover, naturalizing offers benefits to the individual’s children, who can automatically acquire citizenship due to their parent’s status.
Can I Get Citizenship Through VAWA?
Choosing to naturalize in the United States is a major decision. This decision can be even more life-altering for victims of domestic abuse, who overcame many obstacles to pursue lawful status using the VAWA self-petition. After securing permanent residency in the United States, it is common to wonder whether an eligible survivor of domestic violence can get citizenship through VAWA.
Fortunately, yes, it is possible to secure citizenship through VAWA. To apply for VAWA citizenship, an individual must have held their Green Card for three years. Note that it is not necessary to prove that you resided with your spouse or former spouse during this time. Therefore, if you obtained your status as a Lawful Permanent Resident and have had a Green Card for three years or more, you can apply for citizenship through VAWA.
How Can I Apply for Citizenship After a Green Card Through VAWA?
Having already gone through the process of self-petitioning for your Green Card through VAWA, you are likely quite familiar with the processes and procedures of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. While this will be helpful moving forward, applying for VAWA citizenship is an entirely different matter.
At ZafiroLaw, the first step to applying for citizenship is ensuring that all eligibility criteria are met. Certain requirements must be met before applying for citizenship, which include:
- You must be 18 years or older at the time of application
- It has been at least 3 years since you obtained your Green Card
- You can demonstrate that you have continuous residence in the United States for at least 3 years before the date of application as well as from the date of application until that date you naturalize as a U.S citizen
- Demonstrating that you are a person of good moral character
- You have been physically present in the United States for at least 18 months out of the 3 years before the date of application
- Ability to read, write, and speak in the English language (there are certain exceptions to this requirement)
- You know the principles of United States history and government
To apply for citizenship, you must complete and submit Form N-400, the Application for Naturalization. Each application must be accompanied by the relevant filing fee and biometrics services fee. After the application is successfully submitted, the USCIS will communicate with you regarding your biometrics appointment as well as your naturalization interview. You can file your Form N-400 either online or via mail.
It is important to note that victims of domestic violence and abuse may have difficult circumstances at home. If you are currently residing in a shelter or safe house at the time of application, it is possible to use a “safe address” to receive correspondence with the USCIS. This address may be a P.O. box or the address of a friend or your attorney’s office, for example.
How Long Does it Take to Get Citizenship Through VAWA?
It is difficult to put a timeframe on the naturalization process, as the length of time it takes from application to approval varies from case to case. It make take months or years complete the naturalization process and secure VAWA citizenship. The USCIS receives thousands of applications every month, so backlogs are quite common.
How Can ZafiroLaw Help with the Naturalization Process?
As one of the top ten states for naturalization applications, VAWA Green Card holders residing in Washington often look to experienced immigration firms to help with the process. Based in Seattle, our office is proud to work alongside survivors of domestic violence to obtain their citizenship in the United States of America.
Many people attempt to work through the naturalization process without professional legal assistance. This can result in significant delays or the denial of an application. An application can be denied for several reasons, including mistakes in completing Form N-400 or prior legal issues.
Hiring an attorney to help with the citizenship process can help in numerous ways. Our lawyers are trained to identify and avoid the common pitfalls that applicants fall into, therefore speeding up the process. Moreover, ZafiroLaw attorneys can attend your naturalization interview with you, providing the necessary guidance and clarification to ensure success at this step of the process.
Securing VAWA Citizenship with ZafiroLaw
Above all, we strive to help domestic violence survivors secure United States citizenship. We accomplish this goal through empathetic guidance, our breadth of experience and knowledge, and skillful legal advocacy. Securing citizenship does not need to be difficult. To talk with a compassionate and experienced attorney today, consider contacting our office at (206) 309-9645.