VAWA is short for the Violence Against Women Act. It can protect family members of abusive U.S. citizens and permanent residents by allowing them to apply for a green card, without the help of their abuser.
You may qualify for VAWA if you can show:
- You were "battered" or suffered "extreme cruelty." This can be physical, like hitting, shoving, pinching, biting, or rape. Or it can be mental, like threats of violence, forceful detention, psychological abuse; or controlling your money, outside relationships, or movements.
- You lived with the abuser, even if it was a short time. If it was an abusive spouse, you have to show it's a real marriage. If it was an abusive parent, you have to be under 25 and unmarried.* (It's easier to apply if you are under 21.)
*If the marriage was not legal because you were too young, or you are divorced now, you may qualify.
Does the abuser have to be a U.S. citizen?
If the abuser is the spouse or parent, the abuser must be a U.S. citizen or have a green card. If the abuser is the son or daughter, then the abuser must be a citizen.
Can VAWA help my family members stay in the U.S.?
Victims of an abusive spouse or parent who apply under VAWA can also apply for their unmarried children who are under 21. If they get VAWA, they can apply for a green card.
What if I am not sure if I qualify or if I meet some requirements but not others?
Talk to a Legal Advocate right away! If you do not qualify for VAWA, you may qualify for another immigration program.
What is the deadline?
if you were abused and your marriage ended, the abuser died, or his/her legal status was taken away, you have 2 years to apply for VAWA.
You may qualify if:
- You have been abused;
- The abuser is your spouse, parent, or child;
- The abusive spouse or parent is a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident, or the abusive child is a U.S. citizen;
- You lived with the abuser.
Note: If you have disobeyed some laws or immigration rules, you may not not qualify for VAWA.
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