What is VAWA?

The Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA, is a federal law that President Bill Clinton signed in 1994 to combat violence against women and provide protection to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. It allows the spouse and/or child of an abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident to apply for a green card by self-petition. The individual can apply for their green card without the help of their abusive spouse. Both men and women may apply.

Who Is Eligible to Self-Petition for VAWA?

A VAWA recipient is an individual who is the victim in a domestic violence scenario. To be able to self-petition for VAWA, the individual must meet the following requirements:

Be the abused or battered spouse of a citizen of the U.S. or an LPR

Be the child of a U.S. citizen or LPR who is either battered or abused by his parent

Be the spouse of a U.S. citizen or LPR and having a child or children who are being abused.

What types of abuse are required.

The United Nations define domestic abuse as “behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate pattern.”

There are different ways abuse is inflicted in such a way that the abuser takes control of the relationship, such as:

  • Verbal abuse
  • Isolation
  • Psychological
  • Intimidation
  • Economic control
  • Emotional
  • Rape and/or sexual assault
  • Battering and physical abuse

What kind of evidence is needed?

The evidence needed to self-petition under VAWA includes:

Evidence of the relationship you have with the abuser

Evidence of the status of your abuser as a U.S. citizen or LPR

Affidavit of a good moral character with a proper criminal background check

Proof showing that you and the abuser lived in the same residency

Evidence that you married the abuser in good faith

Abuse proof (you do not necessarily need police reports for this)