In VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) cases, the rules are different. If the VAWA self-petitioner believed he or she was married but was subject to bigamy, the alien may still be eligible for VAWA benefits including a green card.
A VAWA self-petitioner involved in a bigamous marriage must show that:
1) She believed the US citizen or permanent resident was free to enter into the marriage;
2) The marriage was bona fide other than the bigamy;
3) The marriage ceremony was actually performed.
It is often necessary to get creative in proving bona fide marriage in bigamy VAWA cases. Likewise, the self-petitioner must be meticulous in proving that s/he reasonably believed the citizen/resident spouse was free to marry – showing the spouse’s family members were supportive of the union and attended the wedding is helpful here.
As with any VAWA case, there are several other requirements the self-petitioner must meet including good moral character and satisfying certain time restrictions on filing if the marriage has terminated due to death or divorce.
If you are considering a domestic violence-based immigration case, contact Nelson & Nuñez to schedule a consultation. Jay Nuñez has personally handled many VAWA cases and can help you better understand the process and viability of your case.