Violence Against Women Act, a means for battered and abused spouses to obtain a green card.
VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) cases are a category of immigration cases in the United States that provide a pathway to lawful immigration status and protection for certain victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and other qualifying crimes. VAWA was initially enacted in 1994 to address violence against women, but it has since been expanded to cover victims of any gender. Here are key aspects of VAWA cases:
To be eligible for VAWA relief, an individual must meet specific criteria:
1. Qualifying Relationship: The applicant must have a qualifying familial relationship with a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) spouse, parent, or child who subjected them to abuse. Alternatively, the applicant can apply as the parent of a U.S. citizen child who was subjected to abuse by the child's U.S. citizen or LPR spouse.
2. Abuse or Battery: The applicant must demonstrate that they have been subjected to physical or extreme emotional abuse or battery by the U.S. citizen or LPR family member.
3. Good Moral Character: The applicant must have good moral character, which is typically assessed during the application process.
To apply for VAWA relief, individuals must submit Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, along with supporting evidence that establishes the qualifying familial relationship, the abuse or battery, and their good moral character.
Benefits of VAWA Status:
Protection from Deportation: Approval of a VAWA petition provides protection from deportation.
Work Authorization: VAWA applicants can apply for work authorization, allowing them to work legally in the United States while their VAWA petition is pending.
Access to Public Benefits: VAWA beneficiaries may be eligible for certain public benefits and services.
Path to Permanent Residency: After holding VAWA status for three years, individuals may be eligible to apply for lawful permanent residency (a green card).
Confidentiality: The VAWA application process prioritizes the confidentiality and safety of victims, and information related to the abusive family member is not disclosed to them.
Self-Petitioning: One unique feature of VAWA is that victims can self-petition for immigration benefits without the need for sponsorship or assistance from the abusive family member. This allows victims to seek protection independently.
Legal Assistance: Given the complexities of VAWA cases and the sensitive nature of the issues involved, it is highly recommended that individuals seek legal assistance from an attorney experienced in immigration law and domestic violence cases. An attorney can help victims navigate the application process, gather supporting evidence, and ensure their rights and safety are protected throughout the VAWA application process.
VAWA is an important tool for providing protection and immigration relief to victims of abuse and violence, and it plays a crucial role in addressing domestic violence and related issues in the United States.