VAWA safeguards immigration benefits for survivors of domestic abuse. Abuse may be physical, financial, mental, emotional or sexual. VAWA status has a pathway to a green card. 

Who can apply for VAWA?

  1. A non-U.S. Citizen married to an abusive U.S. Citizen or Green card holder
      *The underlying marriage must be bona-fide
  2. An individual abused by their U.S. Citizen Parent or U.S. Citizen adult child 
      *It can be a step relationship
  3. Applicant who is not otherwise ineligible
  4. The Applicant can be of any sex
  5. VAWA is available even if the marriage ended in a divorce

An Applicant for a VAWA self-petition and Green Card can also apply for:

  • Work Authorization based on the Green card application
  • Advance Parole allowing one to exit and enter the U.S. while the petition is pending

VAWA Cancellation of Removal

VAWA permits some abused noncitizens to apply for permanent residence status while in removal proceedings, in a process called cancellation of removal. The major requirements for VAWA cancellation of removal are: 

  1. The noncitizen has been battered or subject to extreme cruelty by a spouse, former spouse, or parent who is or has been a USC or LPR; 
  2. The noncitizen has resided continuously in the United States for at least three years; 
  3. The noncitizen is a person o Good Moral Character;
  4. The noncitizen is not otherwise ineligible;
  5. Removal from the United States would cause extreme hardship to the noncitizen, or their child or parent; and
  6. The noncitizens merits discretion.

VAWA self-petition filed with USCIS and VAWA Cancellation of Removal filed with Immigration Court have some major differences, pros and cons. You should speak to an immigration attorney to explore the best strategy for your situation.

Battered spouse waiver of joint petition for removal of conditional residence. 

A noncitizen who is a conditional resident (has a two year green card) may file to remove conditions on their own—without the help of their petitioner—and apply for a 10 year green card if the petitioner has been abusive. Here, the noncitizen obtains a special “battered spouse waiver” of the joint petition requirement, showing that they have been subjected to battery or extreme cruelty during the marriage to the U.S. Citizen or Green Card Holder Petitioner.

U visas for survivors of crime

If you are a abused noncitizen who is not married to your U.S. Citizen or Green Card Holder abuser, or are married to an abuser who is not a U.S. Citizen or Green Card holder, you may be able to file for a U visa. For more information on U Visas, visit our U Visa page.

T visas for survivors of Human Trafficking

Abused noncitizens may also be eligible for a “T” visa. The T visa is available for survivors of both human sex trafficking and labor-related trafficking.

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