VAWA | The Violence Against Women Act
Passed by Congress in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) created special routes to immigrant status for battered spouses, children, and parents. Contrary to what the name may imply, these special provisions apply to both men and women. As part of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), VAWA allows spouses, children, and parents of abusive U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents to petition for themselves without their abuser’s knowledge. This avenue is designed to protect applicants, as notifying their abusive relative may pose a risk to their safety.
The process begins with the eligible party filing the I-360 Self-Petition (also known as the Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant). Petitioners will need to provide supporting evidence of their relationship to the citizen or permanent resident and that they were subjected to abuse or extreme cruelty by this individual. Parents who are filing may either be the parent of an abused child (unmarried and under age 21) or a parent who has been abused by their adult child (who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident). Police reports are not necessarily required, as it is understood that victims may be fearful of calling the authorities regarding their abuse. However, to qualify for VAWA the abuse must have occurred in the U.S. and the victim must have lived with their abusive relative.
Divorced spouses can also seek relief through VAWA if the divorce occurred within 2 years of their filing date and the petitioner can illustrate a connection between the abuse and the termination of the marriage. However, if they can’t, the petitioner may have other options for seeking safety and relief. VAWA gives individuals a chance to build a safe life free from violence, while also gaining lawful status in the U.S., employment authorization, and access to public benefits.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, you may want to get a protective order both to protect yourself and to strengthen your immigration case. Contact the family law attorneys in our office for more information.
The safety of you and your family is essential. We understand that the process to file a self-petition through VAWA can be both difficult and emotional for clients. As experienced immigration lawyers who understand the intricacies of these cases, we want our clients to know they can trust us. We truly care about our clients and work our hardest as advocates for their new life. We are happy to be of assistance if you’re running into complications while trying to self-petition, or simply if you’d like a partner who can guide you through this legal process. If you believe you may qualify for VAWA and would like the help of a lawyer, please feel free to contact Salmon-Haas for a free consultation. We can also discuss your eligibility for other programs and benefits that can help you.