'Battered spouse visa' may be discontinued - Immigration attorney warns potential applicants

October 19, 2018

Head of the Jamaica Diaspora and Deportation Immigration Prevention Task Force, attorney Joan Pinnock, is imploring Caribbean nationals who wish to file a battered spouse petition to do so soon.

Speaking with THE WEEKEND STAR, Pinnock said persons seeking green cards using this route will no longer be able to do so, as the act is scheduled to expire in December.

"Although the waiver may expire on December 7, I am telling those interested to do it by November 30, because Jamaicans especially like to do things the day before. We want them to come in with all their paperwork, because the waiver will be expired and we don't anyone to be out of luck," she said.

As a battered spouse, child or parent, a person may file an immigrant visa petition under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

The VAWA provisions in the INA allow certain spouses, children, and parents of US citizens, and certain spouses and children of green card holders, to file a petition for themselves, without the abuser's knowledge. This allows victims to seek both safety and independence from their abuser.

Pinnock said this included mental and emotional abuse.

"(In that case) He or she will be referred to a psychologist, who will do an evaluation and write up a report. There and then, I will get the relevant documents to show that they are actually married, live together and share a joint account and so on. A few close friends and families will also be used as reference," she said.

Pinnock said that so far this year, she has represented close to 400 battered spouses, the majority being male.

She stated that throughout her years as an immigration attorney, she has met with numerous men who have been abused both physically and emotionally by their wives.

"Just recently, I got a call from a man whose wife locked him out the house two days before he was scheduled to do the (citizenship) interview. She just got up and left. Sometimes the women are so mean. The green card is like a form of control ... these women hold the card over them like a noose over their necks. Some of these women can be really mean once they see the card coming through," Pinnock said.

Green card applicants can apply to waive the joint filing requirement if they are no longer married to the spouse, or if they have been battered or abused by the spouse or parent.

In such cases, a person may apply to remove the conditions on their permanent residence at any time after they become a conditional resident, but before they are removed from the country.

Persons must provide evidence that removal from the US would cause extreme hardship.

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