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What is VAWA?

What is VAWA?

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) allows people to “self petition” (in other words, to petition for their own Green Cards, if they are an abused spouse or child of a US citizen or US permanent resident. This option is used for victims who need to seek safety from an abusive spouse or parent without them knowing the victim is filing an immigration case. The victim can use this option to find safety and freedom from the abusive person without fear of retaliation.

Eligible Parties

  • The Spouse - A spouse may file for the self and a child under 21-years of age for any abusive that is, or has taken place. The marriage must have occurred in “good faith’ and not for the sole purpose of immigration benefits. The victim must have lived with the abusive spouse for a time and be an individual of good moral character.
  • The Child - Children of abusive parents can file for naturalization if they are under 21-years-old or be included in a spouse petition. Children may also petition after 21-years of age up until 25 if the child can prove the delay in filing happened due to the abuse.
  • The Parent - If a son or daughter has been abusive, a parent may also file a petition for naturalization. An individual must be able to prove they’ve suffered cruelty or violence by a U.S. citizen that is a son or daughter. The parent will have had to live with the son or daughter for a time and be of good moral character.

The Process to Petition

  • File the I-360 form and include requested documentation.
  • Self-petitioning spouses or children will receive (if requirements are met) a notice of “Prima Facie Determination” which is valid for 150-days. This will allow you to receive public benefits and support.

Those who do not have legal immigration status may be able to remain in the U.S. with deferred action.

Work Eligibility for VAWA Petitioners

Individuals with an approved I-360 status can work in the U.S. even if that petition is in ‘deferred action.’ TheI-765 form will need to be filled out to seek employment which is an employment authorization application. Children who are old enough to work are also employment eligible and will also need to fill out the I-765 form.

Can Landerholm Immigration help you? We have a compassionate team of immigration attorneys and professionals that can assist through the various petitions for VAWA petitioners and invite you to talk with us about your situation. Contact us today.


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