It is an unfortunate fact that violence against women occurs all over the world—but many may find some protection in the United States.
Originally passed in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) provides a wide range of protection and remedies for women and men who have been the victim of abuse at the hands of their spouse. Included in the bill was the creation of a self-petitioning visa by filing the form I-360—sometimes referred to as the “VAWA visa” or the “domestic violence green card.”
If an immigrant is married to a United States Citizen or a Legal Permanent Resident, the spouse can petition for the immigrant to obtain their own Legal Permanent Residence (Green Card). However, if there is domestic violence, Congress recognized the inherent difficulty an abused spouse may encounter in trying to secure the sponsorship of her (or his) abuser.
In order to qualify for the VAWA visa, one must either:
- be the victim of domestic violence at the hands of a US citizen (or permanent resident) spouse; or
- show that their child was abused at the hands of a US citizen (or permanent resident) spouse.
Beyond meeting the above criteria, self-petitioners must provide a variety of documentation to be filed with USCIS. Depending on one’s status, the entire process requires detailed documents and may take months or years to be finalized. I highly recommend obtaining an immigration lawyer to prepare the necessary paperwork and learn about the process and if it will be the proper avenue to follow.
For more information, contact me here.