How the Violence Against Women Act Helps Victims File for Immigration Visa

July 27, 2023
The family-based immigration process is supposed to reunite noncitizen family members with their loved ones in the United States. However, there are some cases where this process can be used to abuse and control noncitizen family members by withholding or threatening to withdraw the petition. This problem is where the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) comes in, a crucial legal tool for immigrant victims of domestic violence and abuse. In this blog post, we'll explore how VAWA can help victims of violence who have been sponsored by their U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident relative.

As previously mentioned, those who have been sponsored by a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident can file a self-petition with USCIS. This allows victims to seek both safety and independence from their abuser. Spouses and children of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, and parents of U.S. citizens who are 21 years of age or older, may file a self-petition for immigrant classification with USCIS.

The self-petition process allows VAWA self-petitioners to independently petition for immigrant classification without their abuser's knowledge, consent, or participation. This means that the abuser cannot use the immigration process to continue to abuse and control the victim. The process gives victims the opportunity to apply for a Green Card and seek legal permanent residence. Once the self-petition is approved, the noncitizen victim may apply for consular processing or adjustment of status.

VAWA also provides additional protections for victims of domestic abuse. It allows victims to access public benefits and services, such as health care and safe housing, despite the abuser’s immigration status. This provision ensures that noncitizen victims are not further victimized because of their immigration status. Additionally, VAWA includes confidentiality provisions that protect victims’ sensitive information from an abuser who tries to track them down.

The Violence Against Women Act is an essential legal tool for protecting immigrant victims of domestic violence and abuse. Domestic abuse should never be used as an immigration tool to control and manipulate another person. By allowing VAWA self-petitioners to independently file for immigrant classification, USCIS empowers victims to take control of their lives and seek safety and independence from their abusers. If you or someone you know is a noncitizen victim of domestic violence or abuse, contact an immigration lawyer for help filing a self-petition under VAWA.