The Violence Against Women Act is important to understand for any immigrant woman who is married to an American. VAWA was passed in 1994 and helps to protect victims of abuse who haven’t yet become citizens of the United States.
Some women stay in relationships that are dangerous to them or their children because of a fear of deportation, but the reality is that VAWA can help you stay in the country and to protect yourself. VAWA is a part of the Violence Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act.
Can you get a Green Card if you have been a victim of domestic violence?
With VAWA, you have the option to seek a Green Card and to become a lawful permanent resident if you have been a victim of extreme cruelty or battery by your:
- Lawful permanent resident parent
- S. citizen son or daughter
- S. citizen parent
- S. citizen spouse or ex-spouse
- Lawful permanent resident former spouse or current spouse
With VAWA, you can self-petition for your Green Card. This is done with Ford I-360, which is something your attorney can help you fill out. You do not have to give the abusive family member notice of your application or get their consent, which further helps protect you against violence that might otherwise occur.
Can only women apply for a Green Card with VAWA?
Although VAWA is the Violence Against Women Act, men can also apply for a Green Card if their female or male spouse has been abusive to them (or if other types of domestic violence have occurred).
Do you have to be married to an abusive spouse to petition for a Green Card through VAWA?
No. However, if you are no longer married, you will need to show that your abusive spouse died within the last two years, that your spouse wasn’t legitimate because of bigamy, because your spouse lost their citizenship or status because of domestic abuse, or because your marriage was terminated within two years due to extreme cruelty or battery.
You don’t have to stay in a dangerous situation. Your attorney can help you seek to stay in the U.S. and help you protect yourself if you are in danger due to domestic violence.