Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

Contrary to its name, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is gender neutral. Abused men, along with abused women, can file under this act. VAWA provides an avenue for lawful permanent residence (Green Cards) for victims of abuse such as battery or extreme cruelty at the hands of a:

  • U.S. Citizen spouse or former spouse
  • U.S. Citizen parent (if the child is under the age of 21)
  • U.S. Citizen son or daughter
  • Lawful Permanent Resident spouse or former spouse
  • Lawful Permanent Resident parent (if the child is under the age of 21)

The intending immigrant who has been abused by one of these relatives can self-petition under VAWA. This means that they do not need the relative to file a petition on his or her behalf and the relative does not need to even know that he or she is applying under VAWA. This allows the abused spouse to seek safety and independence from the abuser. Furthermore, VAWA applicants can include their unmarried children who are under the age of 21. Applicants are eligible to receive their green card through this process even if:

  • They entered the United States illegally
  • They entered legally but have overstayed their status and currently have no status
  • They are on welfare or likely to go on welfare

Spouse: In order to be eligible for a VAWA petition based on married to a current or former U.S. Citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse, the applicant must prove the following:

  • That they are married to the U.S. Citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or if the marriage has been terminated, that the spouse passed away or the divorce was finalized within the 2 years immediately prior to filing the application
  • They or their child were abused by your U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident spouse
  • They entered into the marriage with the good faith intention of being married indefinitely and not for the sole purpose of obtaining an immigration benefit
  • They and their spouse resided in the same residence at one point
  • They are a person of good moral character

Child: In order to be eligible for a VAWA petition, as the child of an abusive U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent resident parent, the applicant must prove the following:

  • They are the child under the age of 21 of the U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident parent
  • They were battered or treated with extreme cruelty by their U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident parent
  • They and the abusive parent resided in the same residence at one point
  • They are a person of good moral character (if they are under the age of 14 they are presumed to be a person of good moral character)

Parent: In order to be eligible for a VAWA petition as the parent of an abusive U.S. Citizen child, the applicant must prove the following:

  • They are the parent of a U.S. Citizen child who is at least 21 years old at the time of filing OR
  • They are the parent of a U.S. Citizen child who has passed away but was at least 21 years old at the time of their death and they are filing the application within 2 years of the abusive child's death
  • They were battered or treated with extreme cruelty at the hands of his or her U.S. Citizens child
  • They and the abusive U.S. Citizen child resided in the same residence at one point
  • They are a person of good moral character

After the VAWA petition is approved, the abused applicant will be eligible to apply for his or green card to obtain Lawful Permanent Resident status.

Contact us by email or by calling 717-836-0471 to set up an appointment with one of our attorneys. Our lawyers represent families in Pennsylvania and all over the United States.