VAWA: My Partner Doesn’t Hit Me, But He Does Threaten Me

By Published On: April 5, 2022Categories: Vlog, Immigration, VAWA

“El Show Sin Fronteras”

Spanish Video Above Translated To English Below

What Is VAWA?

VAWA is an immigration program, which stands for the Violence Against Women Act, a law that was passed by the Congress more than 20 years ago, and has many protections for people who were victims of domestic violence or abuse in a relationship.

This law applies to both women and men even though the name of this law is the Violence Against Women Act, you are eligible regardless of your gender.

In this program, what affects or benefits the immigrant community is a part that says that when an immigrant is in a relationship with a citizen or permanent resident, wherein a normal situation the resident or citizen would ask for their  beneficiary, for example, we would have in this case a Family Petition, an Adjustment of Status, or a way to adjust immigration status through this relationship.

What happens is that when the immigrant is suffering some type of abuse, which can be anything, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a blow, for example, it can be mental abuse, verbal, physical, or sexual, it can be the control of your money, where you can or cannot go, things that show the toxicity of that relationship.

When the immigrant is in such a controlling situation or is suffering cruelty in the relationship, VAWA says that the immigrant could petition for permanent resident status on their own without needing the assistance of the citizen or permanent resident.

The reason this law exists is to help people who have been victims, people who have suffered abuse, and who may have a way to adjust their immigration status without needing the help of their abuser.

Important points about the VAWA program are:

  • It is a law to protect victims and to provide them with a way to adjust their status without the knowledge or assistance of their abuser.
  • In VAWA, the abuse must be by a husband or wife, but it can also be by a father, mother, or child.
  • In the situation where the immigrant is arranging status on behalf of his or her parents, the immigrant applicant must be a minor.
  • In the case of a parent who has a citizen child, it can be arranged if the child is an abuser, but in that situation, the child must be of legal age, must be over 21 years old.

Can I Get A Green Card Through VAWA?

Yes, VAWA is a way to obtain permanent residency, usually, most VAWA applicants are doing a One-Step, they are applying for VAWA and permanent residency in the same case.

In these types of cases, it is possible to get a work permit, and everything moves very fast.

There are circumstances where the applicant does not qualify for permanent residency, for example, if you have a case of fraud or have claimed to be a U.S. citizen to register to vote, or if you have the permanent penalty given to people who have one year without legal permission in the U.S., leave and return without permission.

There is a list of punishments that cannot be waived in VAWA cases.

In those situations, applicants can only apply for VAWA without permanent residency, but it is a way to obtain protection for life, and they can obtain a work permit and renew it for life.

Regardless of the applicant’s history, 90 percent of the time it is a way to obtain permanent residency but if not, it is a way to obtain a work permit that can be renewed.

Can I Apply For VAWA If I Have A Prior Arrest Or Ticket?

If you had a single arrest or ticket while driving, there is no problem.

Several types of criminal records will affect eligibility for permanent residency, and this is not a simple matter, because criminal law and immigration law are very complicated.

Generally, the convictions that are problematic for immigration cases are convictions that are related to acts of theft, violence, weapons, or drugs.

If You Are A Victim Of Domestic Violence Don't Hesitate To Consult Your Options For Free With Lincoln-Goldfinch LawIf a person only has a ticket for speeding that will not affect their eligibility for VAWA, but if you are thinking of applying for VAWA or any immigration benefit you should consult directly with us about your specific case.

Even though it may seem like your case is similar to someone you know, you still need to consult with us directly about your history, to determine if you qualify for VAWA only or VAWA with Adjustment of Status to Permanent Resident, if you need a waiver for your arrests or something like that, these are things we have to review for each case.

Can I Apply For VAWA If I Have A Deportation Order?

It is still possible to apply for VAWA if you are carrying a deportation order, and if you want to open your deportation case so that you can adjust your status to permanent resident, it may be possible depending on your file.

When we open such a case, the first step for us is to request a copy of the immigration file from the immigration court and the last attorney you had.

We review everything before we send a case back to immigration because we want to have all the correct information, we at Lincoln-Goldfinch Law are very careful with our clients so as not to put them at risk of having more problems with immigration.

For you, one way to know if you have a good lawyer is when you are consulting with a lawyer and you explain to the lawyer that you have a prior case with immigration, so you had a prior case with another lawyer, and all great and professional lawyers should want to review your file to make sure there are no problems.

That’s an important thing when you have complications like this in an immigration case.

Evidence For VAWA

An important thing to know about VAWA, it does not require a divorce or separation, it is possible to apply for VAWA by living with your abuser in the same house with the children, and this is something you could do without having to tell your abuser anything.

Also, the person can be divorced, separated, or separated living in the same household with their abuser, and the only deadline that applies in VAWA cases is when the divorce has occurred, it is necessary to apply 2 years after the divorce order from the family court because there is no forgiveness for that deadline.

An important aspect to remember is that in the VAWA program you don’t need to have suffered battering or domestic violence, it can be just mental or verbal abuse, you don’t need to have made a report to the police, but in cases where the victim has suffered only mental or emotional abuse, we can prove these cases of cruelty using the applicant’s history.

Actually, this something we do with our clients, we do the written history of what happened, we can also put letters from witnesses, from friends, from neighbors, or from people who know what was going on in that relationship, but we can’t always get that because those sensitive situations are very private for most people who were victims.

There is not always a lot of evidence, maybe they took pictures of the beatings and that is helpful, but sometimes we only have the applicant’s story and maybe a letter from a psychologist or a person who has been treating the person for their mental health.

Our responsibility as a law firm when we open a VAWA case is that we work directly with the applicant, we work creatively to think through what types of evidence we can find in this case to make it successful.

At Lincoln-Goldfinch Law we are very successful in these types of VAWA cases including men’s cases.

Almost 50 percent of our VAWA clients have been male, and most cases have no evidence such as a police report, photos of bruises, or scars, they are easier cases, but we can win cases without having the evidence they normally require.

What To Do If You Are In A Violent Situation?

In the VAWA program, it does not matter if someone entered with or without a Visa, if they overstayed their Visa, for VAWA cases we can do an Adjustment of Status without having to leave the United States, without needing a waiver.

Cases can be a little more complicated for people who carry punishments for multiple entries, we can still review the case because, for example, if someone has an exit and entry without Visa but we can connect this exit to the relationship, to the aggressor, we can forgive this type of case.

There are more waivers available in VAWA cases than in family cases, sometimes people do not qualify to adjust their status for their spouse, their child, their parents, but under VAWA they can.

At Lincoln-Goldfinch Law our consultations and everything related to your case are confidential, your abuser does not have to know about your case, no waiver is needed, no harm will come to your abuser.

It Doesn't Matter What Gender You Are To Be Eligible For VAWA Domestic Abuse Program

Can My Abuser Deport Me?

No, the abuser cannot deport your partner, the VAWA program comes with protection that says when someone has applied for VAWA with immigration, it is prohibited to accept information from the abuser or share information from the applicant, after submitting a VAWA case, immigration cannot take calls, they cannot accept information from your abuser.

There is no need to be afraid of an immigration report after applying for VAWA because it will not happen.

Can I File for VAWA Without My Abuser Knowing?

Yes, in fact, this is a policy of ours in cases where the couple is together but we are doing a VAWA case at the same time.

We only work with the victim, we never talk to the aggressor, no matter if they are together or not.

What Will Happen To My Abuser If I File For VAWA?

VAWA does not require a police report, it is different from the U Visa which is for victims of crime who have cooperated with the police, VAWA is a law for victims and you don’t need to have made a report to the police.

That is just a case that is going to be sent to immigration directly, and if your abuser is a U.S.-born citizen, immigration will not do anything against that person.


Same-sex couples can qualify for VAWA, as well as those in a Common Law Marriage.

You do not need a marriage license, you can live together and tell your community that you are married, in the state of Texas that is a marriage and you can qualify for VAWA even if you do not have a church wedding.

Work Permits & U Visa

President Biden announced that all persons who passed the biometric exams qualify for a work permit.

The news that we are seeing for our clients, is that the immigration agency is taking over working on the backlog of cases.

They are giving work permits to cases that were submitted between 2016 and 2017, but it is still worth asking for the work permit because you have already done your biometrics, the only thing you should know is that there will be a waiting time to get your permit.

If you have additional questions about domestic abuse, the VAWA program, or your specific case, you may contact us at (855) 502-0555. After a short 10 minute evaluation of your case over the phone, we will let you know what options you have. You can also follow us on our social networks so you won’t miss our weekly broadcasts via Facebook, YouTube & Twitch.

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Frequently Asked Questions About The VAWA Program

Yes, VAWA is a way to obtain permanent residency, normally most VAWA applicants are doing a One Step, they are applying for VAWA and permanent residency in the same case.

It is still possible to apply for VAWA if you are carrying a deportation order, and if you want to open your deportation case so that you can adjust your status to permanent resident, it may be possible depending on your file.

No, the abuser cannot deport their partner, in fact the VAWA program comes with a protection that says that when someone has applied for VAWA from immigration, it is totally forbidden to accept information from the abuser or share information from the applicant.

About the Author: Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch

I am the managing partner of Lincoln-Goldfinch Law. Upon graduating from the University of Texas for college and law school, I received an Equal Justice Works Fellowship in 2008, completed at American Gateways. My project served the detained families seeking asylum. After my fellowship, I entered private immigration practice. My firm offers family-based immigration, such as greencards and naturalization, deportation defense, and humanitarian cases such as asylum, U Visa, and VAWA. Everyone at Lincoln-Goldfinch Law is bilingual, has a connection to our cause, and has demonstrated a history of activism for immigrants. To us, our work is not just a job. After the pandemic we began offering bankruptcy services in addition to immigration I realized how much lack of information there is in financial literacy resources in Spanish.

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