Being Strategic with Marriage After Abuse When You’re Not Legalized in the U.S.


When violence erupts in the home and you are without status in the United States, a foreign national is eligible to adjust status through VAWA or a U visa. (VAWA explained below). However, finding new love and remarrying soon after terminating the problematic marriage may throw a serious monkey wrench into your ability to adjust status. One should pause and first ensure none of the below issues apply to his or her situation:

  • Did you enter the U.S. without inspection (i.e. illegal entry)
  • Do you have a criminal history such as a DUI, use of illegal drugs, shoplifting or even receipt of stolen property?
  • Have you ever used a false name or made any misrepresentation even if accidental, unintentional or for your very safety?
  • Any other red flags regarding your status which are ‘of concern’?

If you answered yes or ‘maybe’ to any of the above, consult an immigration lawyer before marrying. For instance, a VAWA I-360 petition has built into it several waiver options which can allow you to overcome serious obstacles to immigration. The government of the United States takes a strong stand against domestic violence and encourages foreign nationals to leave an abusive marriage, as their is help.

Options include powerful Waivers of Inadmissibility through the Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”). The result is the ability to legalize and/or adjust status to a U.S. Permanent Resident. A VAWA I-360 application may confer paroled status into the United States especially for those who entered the United States illegally, thereby curing unlawful presence issues in the United States.

If you or someone you know has experienced domestic violence in the home, and is a foreign national without status; do not hesitate to get the legal support and advice needed to ensure your safety and ability to apply for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) [note: U visa’s are discussed in another ScottVassell & LeeCC Law Firm article and blog posts].

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It is important to consult with an experienced U.S. Immigration Attorney who is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association (AILA).

ScottVassell & LeeCC Law Firm provides free initial screening consultations with our lawyers or you may request our standard consultation. Our contact information is conveniently available at

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