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What is VAWA?

VAWA stands for the Violence Against Women Act. VAWA was created to protect victims of abuse who are not citizens of the United States. Although VAWA is generally used to protect women in abusive relationships, men may also be eligible for VAWA protection. In cases of domestic violence, certain victims of abuse who are not citizens may obtain lawful status without the need of their spouse or former spouse to petition for them.

Usually, your US citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse must petition for you. However, when you are a victim of domestic violence--which is a broad definition of a variety of abuses-- immigration law allows certain noncitizen victims of abuse to get legal status on their own without the need of their abusers. This is because often times, lawful status, and denial of lawful status, is used as a tool in abusive relationships. Contact a qualified Orange County immigration attorney today to discuss your case in more detail.

Who is eligible under VAWA?

You must prove that you are a spouse, child, parent of an abused child, or parent who was physically abused by a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, spouse, parent or adult child. This abuse includes:

  • Physical abuse
  • Verbal Abuse
  • Emotional Abuse
  • Psychological Abuse
  • Intimidation
  • Economic Abuse
  • Threats and Harassment
  • Among other forms of abuse.

It is not a required to have a police report. US immigration understands that many victims are fearful of authorities.

Abused spouses must additionally prove that the marriage is bona fide, that the abuse occurred during the marriage, that the marriage valid, or if there was a divorce, that the divorce occurred less than two years prior to filing under the VAWA.

Other requirements include the fact that the abuse occurred in the United States and that the victim and abuser cohabited.

If you believe you are eligible to petition for lawful permanent residence under the VAWA, contact a qualified Santa Ana immigration attorney today.