VAWA Residency for Victims of Violence

VAWA is an acronym for a law called the Violence Against Women Act, which was passed by Congress in 1994. Among other things, VAWA created special provisions in US immigration law to protect victims of abuse who are not citizens of the United States.

VAWA Permanent Residence

In cases of domestic violence, United States immigration law allows certain victims of abuse who are not citizens to obtain legal status without having to depend on the abuser.

You may be eligible to become a lawful permanent resident (obtain a Green Card) under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) if you are a victim of abuse or extreme cruelty committed by:

  • A spouse or former spouse who is a US citizen.
  • A parent who is a US citizen.
  • A son or daughter who is a US citizen.
  • A lawful permanent resident (LPR) who is your spouse or former spouse.
  • A parent who is an LPR.
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VAWA Application Eligibility

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) allows certain immigration petitions to be made in an individual capacity. That is, without the need for notification or approval by the abusive spouse or relative.

Eligibility to apply for VAWA includes men and women:

If you have been personally abused by a citizen or permanent resident or also their child. Includes children and single young people under 21 years of age.

The law also protects parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents abused by their children.

Unmarried minors under the age of 21 can file a VAWA petition on their own in cases of domestic abuse.

You can petition for yourself (self-petition) under VAWA by filing an Amerasian, Widowed, or Special Immigrant petition (Form I-360) without the knowledge or consent of your abusive family member. Typically, a person who files a VAWA petition on their own is known as a self-petitioner. If your self-petition is approved and you meet other eligibility requirements, you may be eligible to apply for lawful permanent residence (obtain a Green Card).

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