VAWA stands for Violence Against Women Act. However, VAWA is available to victims regardless of gender.
Under VAWA, noncitizen victims of domestic violence, child abuse, or elder abuse may “self-petition” for Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) status without the cooperation of an abusive spouse, parent, or adult child. Divorced victims may also self-petition when there is a connection between the divorce and the domestic violence, as long as the marriage to the abusive spouse was terminated within two years of filing the petition.
Once approved, the applicant of the VAWA self-petition is provided with work authorization, deferred action, and an approved noncitizen petition which allows him or her to apply for LPR status.
There is no limit to the number of VAWA self-petitions that may be filed in any given year.
VAWA self-petitions are available to:
- Spouses and former spouses of abusive U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. Divorced spouses may self-petition if the termination of the marriage was related to the abuse and if the application is filed within two years of the termination of the marriage.
- Children of abusive citizens or lawful permanent residents who file before turning 25.
- A noncitizen parent of an abused noncitizen child, even if the noncitizen parent is not herself abused.
- Non-citizen spouses whose children are abused by the child’s other U.S.-citizen or LPR parent.
In addition to proving abuse, a self-petitioner must also prove:
- Good faith marriage if the abuser is a spouse or step-parent.
- The relationship to the abuser.
- The immigration status of the citizen or LPR spouse, parent, or child.
- Good moral character.
- Residence with the abusive family member.
- Parent-child relationship if the applicant is a non-abusive noncitizen parent whose U.S.-citizen or LPR spouse perpetrated the abuse.
Contact Sherris Legal, P.A. to determine if you are an eligible candidate and to learn more about qualifying for VAWA.