Violence Against Women Act

What is the Violence Against Women Act?

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was created in 1994 for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking in the United States. VAWA provides individuals who may not otherwise have eligibility for an immigration benefit to receive permanent residency based on their close relationship to a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident who has been abusing them.

*******Please note, the Violence Against Women Act expired on December 21, 2018 as a result of the Government Shutdown. As of the date of this blog, the Act is expired. To check on the status of the Violence Against Women Act after the date in which this blog was posted, check with a reliable source or consult with an immigration lawyer.*******

Who Qualifies for VAWA (Violence Against Women Act)?

The USCIS website has provided a list of persons who may be eligible for protection under the Violence Against Women Act. Those who are eligible to file include:

  • Spouse: You may file for yourself if you are, or were, the abused spouse of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. You may also file as an abused spouse if your child has been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse.  You may also include on your petition your unmarried children who are under 21 if they have not filed for themselves.
  • Parent: You may file if you are the parent of a U.S. citizen, and you have been abused by your U.S. citizen son or daughter.
  • Child: You may file for yourself if you are an abused child under 21, unmarried and have been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent. Your children may also be included on your petition. You may also file for yourself as a child after age 21 but before age 25 if you can demonstrate that the abuse was the main reason for the delay in filing.

The supporting documentation which must be provided with the VAWA application differs, depending on the relationship of the victim to their abuser, so it may be important to consult with an immigration lawyer about what is required.

Can Men File for Protection Under VAWA?

This is a common misconception because of the name of this Act. The language of VAWA is gender-neutral, so VAWA does provide protection for male victims, as well.

How is the Process Initiated?

Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, along with all supporting documentation must be completed and filed in order to initiate the process. Supporting documentation must generally include proof of the relationship to the U.S. Citizen or permanent resident and evidence of the abuse taking place.

Getting the Help You Need

Help is available from the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TDD). The hotline has information about shelters, mental health care, and may be able to assist with information for filing a VAWA application.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault, stalking, or dating violence, consider setting up a consult with an attorney at Gilles Law, PLLC. You can reach us at 980-272-8438 at our office in Uptown Charlotte. We are here to assist with your inquiries.

This Blog/Web Site is made available by Gilles Law, PLLC , a Charlotte-based law firm, for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site, you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.