Understanding VAWA: The Violence Against Women Act and Immigration Relief
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a crucial piece of legislation that provides protections and resources for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking in the United States. This article will cover essential information about VAWA, including eligibility criteria, application process, and the types of abuse that qualify someone for VAWA protections.
Eligibility Criteria for The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
VAWA allows victims who have suffered abuse by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) spouse, parent, or child to self-petition for a green card without the help of their abusive relative. To be eligible, you must:
- Have suffered abuse by a U.S. citizen or LPR spouse, parent, or child
- Have lived with the abuser or been married to the abuser
- Have good moral character
- Be not inadmissible to the United States on other grounds, such as criminal history or immigration violations
Applying for VAWA
To apply for VAWA, file Form I-360 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Include evidence of the abuse and your relationship with the abuser, such as police reports, medical records, and affidavits from witnesses.
Types of Abuse Covered Under VAWA: VAWA provides protections for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. The abuse can take many forms, including:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Financial abuse
- Coercive control
VAWA Process and Benefits
The VAWA process can take several months to a few years. While your petition is pending, you can apply for a work permit. If your petition is approved, you will be eligible for a green card. You can also include your children, who have suffered abuse by the same abuser, in your VAWA petition as derivative beneficiaries.
Alternatives to VAWA for Survivors of Gender-Based Violence
If your abuser is not a U.S. citizen or LPR, you may not be eligible for VAWA protections. However, other options may be available to you, such as seeking asylum or applying for a U visa.
VAWA has been instrumental in providing crucial protections and resources to survivors of gender-based violence in the United States. By understanding the eligibility criteria, application process, and types of abuse covered, victims can make informed decisions and seek the relief they need to rebuild their lives.