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Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

Unlawful immigrants who experience domestic abuse may be afraid to contact the police or get other types of help because of their status. However, certain victims of domestic abuse may have a path towards lawful status under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). VAWA allows certain battered spouses, children and parents of U.S. citizens and certain battered spouses and children of permanent residents who are abused by the U.S. citizen or permanent resident to file an immigrant visa petition for themselves without any involvement by their abuser.

You may be eligible to self-petition if:

  • Your spouse is a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident who abused you or your child,
  • You are the parent of a U.S. citizen who has abused you, or
  • You ware an unmarried child under the age of 21 who has been abused by your U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident parent.

    To self-petition under VAWA, you must complete Form I-130, Petition for Widow(er)s, Amerasians, and Special Immigrants, and submit evidence that proves that you meet the eligibility requirements along with supporting documentation.

    You must also establish that you:

  • Suffered battery or extreme cruelty by your U.S. citizen spouse, child, or parent or legal permanent resident spouse or parent,
  • Resided with your abusive spouse, child or parent, and
  • Have good moral character.

    Abused spouses must also show that the marriage was entered into in good faith.

    You should contact a skilled immigration attorney for more information about VAWA eligibility and requirements.

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