The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) was the first piece of federal legislation specifically designed to help curb domestic violence. Congress recognized that victims of domestic violence need immigration law protection because a petitioning U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident abuser has complete control over a victim’s immigration status. Often, the abuser uses their legal status to threaten the victim with deportation. These are powerful tools that can lock battered immigrants and their children in abusive relationships and may aggravate the violence they experience.
Under VAWA and its subsequent reauthorizations, Congress gave victims of battery and extreme cruelty (perpetrated by a U.S. citizen or resident) the power to “self-petition” for their immigration status independent of their abuser. The victim of abuse must prove that their abuser is a citizen or resident, that the abuser battered them or subjected them to extreme cruelty during their marriage, that they married in good faith, that they lived with the abuser during their marriage, and that the victim has good moral character. Abused children and parents of abusers are also eligible for VAWA benefits.
If you have experience physical or emotional abuse by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse, parent, or child, you may benefit from VAWA protections. Click here
for more information regarding domestic violence and to find help in your area.