VAWA allows victims of abuse, who are close relatives of US citizens or Green Card holders, to apply for a change of their status themself.

If you are the spouse, child or parent of a US citizen or spouse/child of a Green Card holder, the relative must petition the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on your behalf for you to obtain legal status.

This relative controls the process until you obtain your own legal permanent residence (“Green Card”).

VAWA changed this by allowing victims of abuse to obtain legal status without the involvement or control of the abuser through a “VAWA self-petition”.

By itself, filing a petition will prevent you from working legally until the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves your VAWA petition and issues an Employment Permit – Work Authorization )

If the abuser is your spouse, US citizen, child, or parent, you may be able to get a work permit faster than if the abuser was a Green Card holder.

You should discuss obtaining a work permit with your lawyer, because once the application is approved, additional documents may be required, depending on your situation.

When you file your own VAWA petition, you may list some of your immediate family members as “derivatives”.

If the abuser is your spouse, you may include your children under the age of 21 who are unmarried at the time of the petition.
If the abuser is your parent, you may include your children under the age of 21 who are unmarried at the time of the petition.
If the abuser is your adult child, you cannot include other relatives as derivatives.

Can men be eligible to file a VAWA petition?

Even though the law has the word “women” in the title, abused men or people of either gender can file a VAWA petition if they can prove they qualify.

Once your petition has been approved, you will be able to receive:

Work permit ( Employment Work Authorization ), which allows you to work legally in the country.
Some public benefits. Consult with an attorney who is familiar with government immigrant benefits to determine what benefits you can claim. You can also visit the NILC website for government benefits available to some immigrants.
Green Card (Lawful Permanent Residence)

Other eligibility requirements that you will need to prove to be eligible for a waiver (spouse) or child:

the “good faith” of your marriage; it is necessary to prove that the marriage was not concluded for the purpose of legalization.
during the marriage, you or your child was subjected to battery or extreme cruelty by the abusive US citizen or lawful permanent resident.
“Ultimate cruelty” is any form of power and control that includes, but is not limited to, being the victim of or being threatened with violence , forced detention that results in physical or mental harm, psychological or sexual abuse, rape, molestation, incest, and coercion to prostitution.

Who can get a Green Card under VAWA?]V
You may be able to get a Green Card if you are a victim of extreme mental cruelty or physical abuse by:
Spouse who is a U.S. Citizen or Green Card holder
Parent who is a U.S. Citizen or Green Card holder
Son or daughter who is a U.S. Citizen
How can one prove mental abuse which is at the level of extreme mental cruelty?]V
Generally, one would seek help from a qualified psychologist. A psychologist would need to provide information about the nature of abuse. Also, one would wright a personal statement explaining the abuse. When our firm handles VAWA cases, our attorneys also provide a detailed legal brief, where we summarize the psychologist’s report and tie the facts to the legal requirements under VAWA.
We got married, but my abusive spouse refused to sign the I-130 form for my Green Card. Can I still file for Green Card under VAWA?]V
Yes. A spouse who was abused can self-petition under VAWA. What matters here is the fact that you were married.
I lived with a common-law spouse who was abusive. Can I file under VAWA even though we were not legally married?]V
Yes, but only if the state where you lived recognizes common law marriage. Generally, Kansas, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Texas, Colorado and Utah recognize common law marriage under some circumstances.
Would my spouse need to go to an interview with me under VAWA.]V
There is no interview under the VAWA claim. There, would be an adjustment of status interview after the VAWA approval as part of the Green Card application that generally does not pertain to questions about the abuse under VAWA. If an interview officer still asks questions about VAWA, your attorneys should assist you with explaining that the questions may not be asked about the circumstances giving rise to VAWA.
I have been in the United States without any status for many years. Am I eligible to get Green Card if I get my VAWA petition approved?]V
Yes. You can adjust status to that of Permanent Resident (Green Card) under VAWA even if you are out of status.
My case was referred to Immigration Court after I did not get approval at the Asylum interview. Can I adjust status to Green Card under VAWA?]V
Yes, if you were a victim of extreme cruelty through physical or mental abuse and you got your VAWA petition approved, Immigration judge will adjust your status to Green Card.
How long does it take to get VAWA approved and to get Green Card? ]V
The wait time varies, but generally one can get his VAWA claim approved within 1.5 to 2 years and a Green Card within about 1 to 1.5 years thereafter.
Can I get work authorization under VAWA?]V
Yes, generally, with approximately 6 months after filing, you may get work authorization.
Can I travel and come back under VAWA?]V
Yes. You should obtain an Advance Parole document before leaving the country.
Can I file a VAWA claim if I am in Asylum proceedings?]V
Yes, you may file a VAWA claim regardless of any other status or visa that you may be under.
Would my spouse know I filed a VAWA claim?]V
Typically, a spouse is not notified of your VAWA claim, as your statements and psychological evaluation are confidential.
How long would I have had to live with my spouse before being able to file under VAWA?]V
There is no requirement that you stay in an abusive relationship. This is precisely the reason the Congress passed VAWA. Some of our VAWA cases involve as little as two weeks of co-habitation. The standard under VAWA is that you must have entered into a bona fide marriage. One can demonstrate this through showing evidence of a marriage ceremony, joint bank accounts, joint insurance, utilities, and other accounts, etc.
If I got divorced, can I still file for VAWA?]V
Yes. It does not matter under VAWA if you got divorced or if you are still married.