The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) allows people who have been abused by a family member to ‘self-petition’ for their own lawful permanent residency application under an adjustment of status (AOS), called a VAWA self-petitioner. Although the act name refers to women, it applies to abused males and females. The law is scheduled to be reauthorized in 2021, the new version includes economic abuse and “behavior that is coercive, deceptive, or unreasonably controls or restrains a person’s ability to acquire, use, or maintain economic resources to which they are entitled.”
VAWA became law in 1994 and has been reauthorized three times, most recently in 2013 under President Barack Obama. In 2019, the House voted to reauthorize the law for five years, but it never went to the Senate for a vote. The House passed the 2021 reauthorization in March in a bipartisan vote, but the Senate has not voted yet. On July 30, almost a dozen Democratic senators, including Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts asked Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to reauthorize the VAWA act.
To qualify under VAWA, you do not have to be currently married to your abuser and you may qualify even if your spouse has recently lost his or her residency status as long as you meet other eligibility requirements.
To seek legal permanent resident status through VAWA, evidence is required. VAWA application forms have many pitfalls and requirements that can be overwhelming and depending on your case may include:
• Background check including fingerprints and biometrics
• Evidence of the applicant’s physical presence in the United States
• Evidence that the abuse occurred in the U.S. or that the abuser is an employee of the US government or a member of the military services
• Evidence of good moral character
• Proof of a good faith marriage
• Proof of divorce or death of your abuser
• For minors, proof of abuse by a parent or legal guardian
VAWA applications require the knowledge of an experienced immigration attorney because applying for this visa is exceptionally challenging. If forms are not completed in a timely or organized manner, people could find themselves with a denial notice. Do not take that chance. Reach out to an experienced attorney who could help you seek the peace of mind you need.
The attorneys at Godoy Law Office in Lombard and Chicago, Illinois, fight for the rights of immigrants and help immigrants navigate the complex and numerous immigration policies, procedures, and regulations. If you need help with an immigration issue, please contact our office at 630-912-0322.