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Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

In 1994, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. The Act created the VAWA Self-Petition to provide a legal remedy to immigrant victims for obtaining immigration status independently of their abusers. The self-petition allows victims of abuse who are otherwise eligible for family-based immigration to adjust status without relying on the abuser for the petition. Under VAWA, certain abused spouses, children, and parents can self-petition for permanent residency in the U.S. 

In order for an applicant to file a VAWA Self-Petition, he or she must prove:

  • That a qualifying relationship with the abuser exists/existed;
  • That the abuser is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident;
  • Good faith marriage (where the qualifying relationship is that of a spouse);
  • Battery or extreme cruelty;
  • Residence with the abuser; and,
  • Good moral character.

If the abuser is not a legal permanent resident or U.S. citizen, or the victim is not legally married, the victim may be eligible for a U visa.

U Visas

U visa permits the holder to stay in the U.S. and obtain work authorization for up to four years. Applicants for U nonimmigrant status can also petition for certain family members. A person with U visa status can usually apply for permanent residency after having a valid U nonimmigrant status for three years. The U visa petition can be accompanied by an application that waives unlawful entry and other immigration violations.

We have successfully represented many VAWA and U visa applicants. Contact Becker & Lee LLP if you or a family member has been the victim of a crime.