Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMENS ACT (VAWA)

Under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), certain battered immigrants who are the spouses and children of United States citizens or lawful permanent residents (LPRs) may self-petition to obtain lawful permanent residency. The abused person in order to seek may apply for immigration relief without the abuser’s knowledge.

Eligibility Requirements:

To be eligible for adjustment of status under VAWA, a self-petitioner must demonstrate that he or she is a person of good moral character and that he or she is eligible under one of the following categories:

* Spouse: You may self-petition if you are a battered spouse married to a U.S. citizen or LPR. Unmarried children under the age of 21, who have not filed their own self-petition, may be included on your petition as derivative beneficiaries.

* Parent: You may self-petition if you are the parent of a child who has been abused by his or her parent, who is a U.S. citizen or LPR. Your children (under 21 years of age and unmarried), including those who may not have been abused, may be included on your petition as derivative beneficiaries, if they have not filed their own self-petition.

* Child: You may self-petition if you are a battered child (under 21 years of age and unmarried) who has been abused by your U.S. citizen or LPR parent. Your children (under 21 years of age and unmarried), including those who may not have been abused, may be included on your petition as derivative beneficiaries.

VAWA allows the victim of abuse to self-petition for lawful permanent residency (green card) and obtain a work permit without the involvement of the spouse. Through the protections of the Act, the victim can petition him or herself along with his or her minor children without needing the spouse’s consent. Adjustment of Status is permitted in (3) three years instead of the standard (5) five years.

The Rationale or Reasons for Violence Against Women Act

In most circumstances, United States citizens and LPRs file an immigrant visa petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of a spouse or child, so that these family members may immigrate to or remain in the United States. Under U.S. immigration law, the United States citizen or permanent resident petitioner is in control of the filings and the process. Some U.S. citizens and LPRs use this control to abuse their family members including threatening to report them to USCIS. As a result, most battered immigrants are afraid to report the abuse to the police or other authorities. The VAWA is a tool that allows the victims to be in control of their petitions and thus not fear retribution from the abuser.