Mira Law Group

VAWA - An Option for Victims of Abuse

What is VAWA?

VAWA, or Violence Against Women Act, is legislation passed by the U.S. Congress in 1994. One of the most significant innovations of VAWA was the creation of a special lane for to obtain legal immigration status for victims of domestic violence. In conventional situations, these individuals often rely on their abuser to file an application for immigration status. However, VAWA’s self-petition gives victims of abuse, who are immediate family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, the ability to apply for status on their own.

What must I prove in order to file a VAWA self-petition?

  1. You must show that you have a qualifying relationship with the abuser who is usually your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse. However, the qualifying relationship may also apply to children who have been abused.
  2. You must demonstrate “good moral character. This means no significant criminal history.
  3. Proof that you have suffered “physical assault or extreme cruelty” by the abuser.
  4. Proof that you have resided in the United States with the abuser.
  5. It is helpful to demonstrate that you have cooperated with authorities in the investigation and prosecution of the abuse, if applicable.
  6. Demonstrate the abuser’s U.S. citizenship or legal residency.

Can I obtain lawful permanent residency through a VAWA self-petition?

Yes, it is possible to obtain lawful permanent residency. If your VAWA petition is approved and you meet the requirements, you may be eligible to adjust your status and obtain lawful permanent residence in the United States.

Can men be eligible for a VAWA self-petition?

Yes, men may be eligible to file a self-petition under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in the United States. Gender is not a limiting factor in filing a VAWA self-petition. If a man can demonstrate that he meets the requirements set forth by the law, including the qualifying relationship, the abuse suffered, and other criteria, he can file a VAWA self-petition to seek classification as a victim of domestic violence and, if approved, move toward obtaining permanent residency.

It is important to keep in mind that domestic violence can affect people of any gender, and the law recognizes this reality by providing protections and remedies to all victims, regardless of their gender. If a man believes he meets the eligibility criteria for VAWA, he can seek legal advice to better understand the process and file a proper application.