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Legal Information: Federal


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Laws current as of May 29, 2024

How can I prove that I suffered battery or extreme cruelty?

Once you establish that you married the abuser in good faith, you must prove that you were the victim of “battery or extreme cruelty” by your US citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse during the marriage. “Battery” refers to physical abuse. “Extreme cruelty” can include psychological or sexual abuse, as well as threatened acts of violence that result or threaten to result in mental harm.1 The term “extreme cruelty” covers most forms of domestic abuse, including abusive acts that are not physical, such as threats to get you deported if you were to report the abuse to law enforcement. You should work with your domestic violence counselor to explain, in detail, all the forms of abuse you suffered. You should also explain any abuse that your children suffered.

USCIS cannot require you to provide a particular type of evidence to prove that you suffered battery or extreme cruelty. However, common types of evidence to prove battery or extreme cruelty can include:

  • a statement from you in which you describe incidences during your marriage when your spouse physically or emotionally abused you, and how those incidences affected you;
  • dated printouts of threatening messages from your spouse;
  • dated photographs of injuries your spouse caused;
  • dated photographs of property your spouse damaged;
  • medical records;
  • veterinary records if your spouse hurt your pets;
  • police reports;
  • a letter from your domestic violence counselor or other mental health service provider;
  • an order of protection, which may be known by a different name, depending on your state;
  • documentation that you live or have lived in a domestic violence shelter; and
  • statements from friends or family members who can describe the abuse and its effect on you.

1 8 CFR 216.5(e)(3)(i)