What is the Violence Against Women Act?
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a federal law established in 1994. It is intended to protect the victims of domestic violence. In addition to other functions, it helps people who have been victims of battery or extreme cruelty at the hands of their U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident family members get green cards so that they can remain in the United States legally.
Some people don’t realize just what a broad range of people VAWA protects. Despite its name, it actually can protect people of any gender or age who have experienced abuse. So if you’re a man and you were abused by your wife, you could still seek protection under VAWA. Many people also don’t realize that it protects victims of abuse beyond just physical violence. That means if your abuser never physically touched you, but emotionally abused you, threatened you, etc. you can still seek protection under VAWA. You must simply prove that there was “extreme cruelty” at play.
Who Does the Violence Against Women Act Cover?
VAWA protects you if:
- You have endured battery or extreme cruelty at the hands of your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or ex-spouse.
- You have endured battery or extreme cruelty at the hands of your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident son or daughter.
- You have endured battery or extreme cruelty at the hands of your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident parent if you are 21 or younger. If you can prove that the delay in filing was caused by the abuse, you can file until you are 25.
How to Petition Under the Violence Against Women Act
If you qualify, you can self-petition for a green card under VAWA. You do not have to inform the person who abused you that you are filing and your information will be kept private. To file your self-petition, you will need to provide evidence of the abuse, proof that you shared a residence with the abuser, evidence of good moral character, and other forms. An experienced immigration attorney can help you with your paperwork and documentation and can help you avoid mistakes in the process that could endanger your status.
ZafiroLaw Can Help You
At ZafiroLaw, we have extensive experience helping clients petition for green cards under VAWA. If you think you may qualify, we encourage you to give us a call. You can reach us at (206) 547-9906. We can’t wait to partner with you!