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VAWA

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT (VAWA)

The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) and its subsequent reauthorizations amended the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to allow abused spouses and children of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) and abused parents of U.S. citizen sons and daughters 21 years of age or older to file their own self-petition for immigrant classification.

The VAWA self-petition is filed on the Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (Form I-360).  An approved Form I-360 provides self-petitioners with immigrant classification as either immediate relatives or under a family-based preference category and allows them to apply for LPR status. It would then be the same as if the person had an approved I-130 petition from that family member. They can adjust status using an I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status.

Who is eligible for VAWA?

You may be eligible to apply for VAWA if you:

1. Be

  • are married to that U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident
  • are the child of a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident
  • are the parent of a child who was abused by their U.S. Citizen or Lawful
    Permanent Resident parent
  • are a parent of a U.S. Citizen son or daughter

AND

2. you were abused by them.


WHAT BENEFITS DOES VAWA PROVIDE?

An individual who is approved for VAWA:

  • receives protection from deportation
  • can work lawfully
  • becomes eligible to apply for a green card
  • can include certain family members in your VAWA petition

WHAT DO I HAVE TO SHOW TO APPLY FOR VAWA?

There are several requirements that need to be met and proven when applying for VAWA.

You will need to demonstrate that you:

  1. are the spouse or child of a US citizen or lawful permanent resident or the parent of a US citizen adult son or daughter;
  2. were abused by the US citizen or lawful permanent resident family member;
    • physical violence
    • emotional abuse
    • forced sexual activity
    • threats of deportation or turning you into immigration authorities
    • controlling you financially or restricting who you can see or where you can go
  3. lived with the abuser at some point in time;
  4. are currently living in the United States [there are limited exceptions to this];
  5. are a person of good moral character.

    IF you are applying as a spouse THEN YOU MUST ALSO show that you
  6. are legally married and in a bona fide marital relationship;

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