Congress first passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 1994. This expansive federal law and its subsequent reauthorizations and amendments contain provisions to allow spouses and children abused by their U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or parent to “self-petition” for a green card, without needing the abusive relative to file a petition on their behalf.
In order to self-petition under the Violence Against Women Act, an abuse spouse or child must prove that:
- The abuser is a lawful permanent resident (LPR) or U.S. citizen;
- The self-petitioner is (or was) the spouse of the LPR or U.S. citizen abuser;
- The LPR or U.S. citizen abused the self-petitioner or her child during their marriage;
- The marriage that forms the basis for the self-petition was a good faith marriage;
- The self-petitioner is residing in the United States and the LPR or U.S. citizen abuser subjected the self-petitioner to abuse in the United States;
- The self-petitioner lived with the abuser;
- The self-petitioner is a person of good moral character.
The immigrant provisions of VAWA are an attempt to correct a very widespread problem, that many immigrants are forced to stay in abusive relationships because their abusive family member can use a noncitizen’s lack of immigration status as a tool for coercion an control. Our office has seen this situation far too many times. Please call our office to speak to an experienced immigration attorney to help you.