The Violence Against Women Act

February 24, 2016

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) allows the eligible battered spouse, child, or parent of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to self-petition for a green card without the abuser’s knowledge.  The ability to self-petition prevents an abuser from using his or her immigration status to keep their victim in an abusive relationship.  The protections in VAWA apply equally to men and women.

Spouses may file a VAWA self-petition if they are the abused spouse of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident or if their child is the victim of abuse by such a person.  Parents may file if they are the parents of a U.S. citizen and have been abused by their citizen child.  Unmarried children under 21 may file if they have been abused by a U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent.  A delay in filing by an abused child is permissible until age 25 if there is proof that the delay was caused by the abuse.

While eligibility requirements vary depending upon the situation, common elements include a demonstration of each of the following: the victim suffered battery or extreme cruelty by the abuser, the victim resided with the abuser, and the victim is a person of good moral character.

VAWA self-petitioners must file Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant with all necessary supporting documentation.  An approved Form I-360 allows the self-petitioner to work in the United States.  Work authorization can be granted even if the self-petitioner is without lawful status as he or she will be placed into deferred action, allowing them to remain in the United States.  An approved VAWA petition also makes the self-petitioner eligible to apply for a green card.

For more information on your eligibility for a VAWA self-petition, please contact us for a free consultation.

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