In this case, the immigrant applied for VAWA special rule cancellation of removal based on abuse from his prior spouse. Section 240A(b)(2)(A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act provides, in relevant part, that the court may cancel removal if the immigrant “has been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by a spouse or parent who is or was a United States citizen” or permanent resident.
These provisions plainly state that an abusive spouse must be either a United States citizen or a lawful permanent resident at some point in time. This case presents a matter of first impression, namely, whether an applicant for special rule cancellation of removal must demonstrate that his or her spouse possessed United States citizenship or lawful permanent resident status at the time that the applicant was abused by and married to this spouse.
We are not persuaded by the respondent’s argument that his former wife used the fact that she had applied for, but had not yet obtained, immigration status during their marriage as “leverage” to keep him in the abusive marriage. An abusive spouse must have the actual ability to affect an alien’s immigration status in order to threaten the alien in the manner contemplated by the VAWA. Thus, the Immigration Judge correctly denied the respondent’s application for special rule cancellation of removal.