Violence against women

How Do I Get a Green Card Through the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)?

The Violence Against Women Act is often referred to as VAWA. It provides relief for abused immigrant spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (LPR's). This article will provide a legal overview, the eligibility requirements, and how to apply for a green card through VAWA.

What is the violence against women act?

In 1994, the Violence Against Women became a law, with several amendments since. The 2013 reauthorization of VAWA allows spouses, children, or parents of U.S. citizens and LPR's to seek permanent residency status. The act protects victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking by providing them with legal assistance. In addition, victims are entitled to pursue help such as restraining orders and the right to seek damages in civil court.

Who does the violence against women act protect?

The Violence Against Women Act allows protection for undocumented spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. These individuals are able to self-petition for a green card, but must provide evidence in order to qualify. As a result of this act, victims of domestic violence and/or spousal abuse are treated as victims rather than criminals. It protects against immigration consequences of domestic violence and stalking committed by a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

How do I qualify for a VAWA green card?

First and foremost, to be eligible to self-petition, you must be the spouse, child, or parent of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Next, the self-petitioner must have experienced abuse as a victim of battery or extreme cruelty. Next, the self-petitioner must sign an affidavit attesting to the abuse and be living in the United States. Not only must the victim live in the U.S., but also prove that she or he resided with the abuser. A self-petitioner doesn't need to rely on the abusive U.S. citizen or permanent resident to fill out the required forms.

What are the steps to getting a VAWA green card?

First, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services requires that self-petitioners submit Form I-360, along with supporting evidence. After approval of Form I-360, submit Form I-485 with the required documentation. If individuals have a pending I-485 filed on behalf of the abusive family member, there is an option to request and adjust it to the VAWA self-petition.

If you are a victim of domestic violence or spousal abuse, VAWA is a powerful weapon to help you. This act has created many protections for victims of domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, and dating violence. If you are a victim, you may be eligible to self-petition for a green card.

Read more immigration articles here.

Helpful Resources:

  1. USCIS - Green Card for VAWA petitioner
  2. Form I-360
  3. Form I-485
  4. USCIS - Questions & answers regarding VAWA
  5. The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

This blog does not intend to answer all questions as each individual case is unique. We recommend you visit the USCIS website for all up to date information regarding permanent residence in the United States. If you need legal assistance, call today to schedule a consultation with immigration lawyer Jesus Martinez at (559) 777-6587.