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blackandblue

MOVING TO THE US MAINLAND WHILE VAWA PETITION IS PENDING

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Filed: AOS (pnd) Country: Philippines
Timeline

I have been married to my abusive USC husband for four years now. I have been a victim of domestic abuse all this time but I could not get out of the marriage because of fear that he will take my children away from me. I have almost a dozen DV-related police reports in my name, newspaper articles, and other evidence of my hellish life with him. I endured everything for the sake of my kids.

In 2009, I stayed at a women's shelter with my children for almost four months. That was when I learned about VAWA from the shelter workers. However, I decided to give our marriage another try in the hope that he will change. I dropped the TRO, supported him in getting help for his bipolar disorder, alcohol and substance abuse problems. I thought I could change him but I was wrong. Every time he got violent towards me, he would use his mental condition as an excuse for laying his hand on me. He refused to fix my papers because he said he needed more time to convince himself that I would not try to escape from him after getting a green card, just like most "opportunist" aliens he knew. He was a doting father to our children (we have five kids, including my two non-USC daughters from a previous relationship). And I took that as a consolation for all the beatings he gave me. At one point, he told me that if I ever divorce him, my children are better off with him because he could give them a status that would enable them to live and study in the US. He seemed to enjoy the fact that this is the one thing I could never give them.

Last year, my husband took our two-year-old son with him to California and left me here on Saipan with practically nothing. I had no job, no car, no money to pay the bills, and worse, no papers. My two children and myself held CNMI IR (240D) permits as immediate relative of my USC husband but it expired along with our umbrella permit, when US federalization took place in November 2009. I am a teacher by profession but I had to stop working because aside from no papers, I have to take care of my special needs children. My five-year-old son is autistic and my eight-month-old has a medical condition that requires special care.

When my husband left, I was so depressed that I almost gave up hope that I will ever recover from my ordeal. By some stroke of luck, I got a letter from my lawyer whom I last spoke to in 2009 during my stay at the shelter. She was following up on me if I still wanted to pursue a VAWA petition. This gave me renewed hope and on March 9, 2012, I finally filed for an I-360, I-485 and I-765 concurrently, with my twelve and eleven year old children as derivative beneficiaries. VSC received my applications on March 13. On March 27, I received a notice of prima facie determination valid until September 23, 2012. A few days after, on April 16, I had my biometrics taken at USCIS Saipan office.

My question is, is it possible for me to move to California with my children while my VAWA petition is pending? If so, how will I go about it? Do I need to apply for some kind of visa or something to travel to the mainland? My brother is based in California and has offered to help me with my situation. I would like to get custody of my two-year-old son and file for divorce. I desperately want to get out of the marriage but I am scared to do anything drastic from here, thousands of miles away from them and with very limited resources. My husband might try to hide my son or not give him back to me ever. I am thinking that if I were to do things in California, it will be faster, more efficient, with more resources, plus I got my family to fall back on if I needed help. Also, my two non-US citizen kids can file for child support from their biological father who is a naturalized USC and is gainfully employed in California. He owes my two kids six years of child support. It would be really be a tremendous help if I could get him to support them. At least I wouldn't be that hard up.

I know that my circumstance would be a whole lot better if I move to California because I know for sure I could get more assistance there in terms of child support, child custody, divorce, and other issues. Can anybody help me please?

What should I do?

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Filed: K-1 Visa Country: Vietnam
Timeline

You really should be asking your immigration lawyer this question.

You can submit an I-360 self-petition based on VAWA if you're not currently in the US, as long as you were present in the US at one time and the abuse occurred in the US (with some exceptions). Having a pending I-360 gives you temporary permission to remain in the US if you're already here, but I don't know if it serves as permission to be admitted to the US. You'll need to speak with your lawyer about this.


12/15/2009 - K1 Visa Interview - APPROVED!

12/29/2009 - Married in Oakland, CA!

08/18/2010 - AOS Interview - APPROVED!

05/01/2013 - Removal of Conditions - APPROVED!

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