Violence Against Women Act/Domestic Violence
Sadly, some U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents commit domestic violence against foreign national spouses. Congress realized that our system needed a balance for the unequal power dynamics between abusive U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident spouses and their foreign, sometimes undocumented spouses. This was the vision behind the Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA, which offers a corresponding U.S. immigration benefit for victims of domestic violence, independent of gender.
To apply for VAWA, a foreign national must prove that they were married to a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident, that the marriage was legitimate or “in good faith,” and that the spouse was extremely emotionally and/or physically abusive. The VAWA application has to be filed within two years of any divorce from the abusive spouse.
The foreign national can be a self-petitioner using Form I-360 and if their I-360 petition is approved, they can then move on to apply for a green card. VAWA applicants are not subject to the same financial standards as other Adjustment of Status applicants, and certain immigration violations can be waived through the VAWA process.
For more about VAWA, visit USCIS’s website about VAWA.
Our office is proud of our experience assisting victims of domestic violence not only with their immigration issues, but also with their divorce, legal separation, and custody disputes. Our goal is to empower people to put the pieces of their lives back together after a domestic violence incident, and begin to build the future they dream of for themselves and their family.