U.S. Permanent Residecy/Green Cards Through VAWA
Purpose of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) allows spouses and children of United States citizens or lawful permanent residents to self-petition for permanent resident status. Filing a self-petition means that battered immigrants can apply for permanent residency by themselves – without the abuser’s help and without the abuser knowing.
I-360 VAWA Petitions
VAWA self-petitioners must file Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant. If you are the beneficiary of a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, you will be able to transfer the priority date for your From I-130 petition to your Form I-360 self-petition.
To self-petition for permanent residency under VAWA, you must:
- Show that you lived with a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or parent (If you are the parent of a United States citizen, you may also be eligible for VAWA benefits.);
- Show that you were battered or subjected to extreme cruelty during the marriage (if you are a husband or wife who is self-petitioning, you can meet this requirement by showing that your child was battered or subjected to extreme cruelty during the marriage);
- You do not need to show physical abuse. Psychological abse is considered an act of violence under VAWA.
- Show that you entered the marriage in good faith;
- Show you are otherwise qualified for admission; and
- Show that you have good moral character.
If you are a self-petitioning spouse, you do not need to be married to your United States citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse at the time you file your self-petition. However, generally you need to file your self-petition within two years of the date of your divorce.
If you are a parent, you may self-petition under VAWA if you are the parent of a United States citizen who subjected you to battery or extreme cruelty, or if you are the parents of a United States citizen, who in the last two years, lost citizenship due to domestic violence, or died.
Immigration Benefits of VAWA
Once your VAWA self-petition is approved, you may:
- Apply to adjust your status to permanent resident status (and when you become eligible, apply for United States citizenship); and
- Apply for an Employment Authorization Document so you can work in the United States. To apply for apply for employment authorization, you must file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.