How to Apply for a Green Card Under the Violence Against Women Act

Mario A. Godoy
How to Apply for a Green Card Under the Violence Against Women Act

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. 

VAWA self-petitioners need to file a Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (Form I-360). You need to be the spouse or child of a U.S. citizen (USC) or Legal Permanent Resident. You can also qualify at the parent of a USC. 

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. 

VAWA Petition 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 

The detailed requirements for Violence Against Women Act visa applicants make applying for this visa exceptionally challenging. VAWA application forms require the knowledge of an experienced immigration attorney. Forms that are not completed in a timely manner or are submitted late or incomplete can result in a denial of your VAWA petition. 

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 855-554-6369. 

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