The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) helps eligible foreign nationals who have suffered domestic violence or extreme cruelty. In some cases, they can also submit a green card application concurrent to filing a VAWA petition.
You may be eligible for VAWA benefits if you have faced battery or extreme cruelty at the hands of:
- A spouse or Former spouse who is a US citizen or a green card holder
- A parent who is a US citizen or a green card holder
- A son or daughter who is a US citizen
The VAWA Process
A VAWA self-petition begins with a Form I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant filed with USCIS https://www.uscis.gov/i-360. The abusive family member will never find out. If your petition is approved, you become eligible to apply for a lawful permanent resident status. Many bars to admission do not apply to VAWA self-petitioners.
The Green Card Process
In order to apply for a Green Card under VAWA, you are required to:
- Submit Form I-360(Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant) accompanied by the evidence needed.
- If you are currently living in the United States and are eligible, file Form I-485(Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) and related Forms such as Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) and Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document).
- If you have a pending Form I-130 family petition and the petitioner is abusive, you can submit a VAWA self-petition to replace the Form I-130. The abuser will not be notified that you submitted this petition on your own behalf. You can also retain the priority date of the Form I-130 to the VAWA self-petition.
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