Understanding VAWA Protections

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a law passed in 1994. Its overall goal is to protect victims of domestic abuse, and one way it does this is by allowing victims to self-petition for status as a lawful permanent resident. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be a woman to petition for protection under VAWA, nor do you necessarily need to have been subjected to physical abuse. In today’s post, we’re discussing the wide range of people who may be able to seek protection under VAWA and how it works.

Who is eligible to petition under VAWA?

The first requirement to petition for VAWA protection is that you have experienced “battery or extreme cruelty.” This includes not only physical violence, but also emotional abuse. Next, make sure the battery or extreme cruelty was committed by one of the following people:

  • Your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or ex-spouse.
  • Your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident parent. 
  • Your U.S. citizen son or daughter.

I  meet those requirements. What do I need to do to petition for a green card?

You will need to file a form I-360 (Special Immigrant petition) and a form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status). The order in which you should file these forms will depend on some unique factors, such as whether or not a visa is immediately available to you. An experienced immigration attorney can help you determine how best to move forward.

What if I do not want my abuser to know I am petitioning under VAWA?

Many victims have concerns that if their abusers find out they are petitioning, it could put them in additional danger. Fortunately, USCIS understands this and has special securities and confidentialities in place to protect you from possible retaliation. Your abuser will not be notified that you are petitioning and all of your correspondence regarding the matter will be sent to your attorney, not to a residence you may share with the abuser.

Who can help me?

If you are embarking on this process, you will need to work with an immigration attorney who is experienced in VAWA cases. The Csépes Law Offices team is here to help you. Contact us today to get started. We can’t wait to work with you!

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