VAWA Benefits for Abused Spouses, Children and Parents

by Alena Shautsova on Dec. 08, 2021

Immigration Deportation Immigration  Visa 

Summary: VAWA or Violence Against Women Act allows certain qualifying non-citizens to obtain US permanent residency without the need of being petitioned by their US citizen or lawful permanent resident family member. The law covers abused spouses and children of US citizens and lawful permanent residents, and parents of US citizens who turned 21 years of age.

Generally speaking, to obtain US permanent residency or a "green card" one must be sponsored by an employer or family member, and a person, apart from an investor or an extraordinary ability applicant, would not be able to overcome this recruitment. The law, however, provides one exception to this general rule: a VAWA self-petitioner does not need a petition by their family member to be able to apply for a green card. "VAWA" stands for Violence Against Women Act, a law that was passed in the United States in 1994 and has been modified several times since then. Despite its name, it provides protections and benefits not only to women but to men, parents, and children as well.

Why would strict US laws provide an exception to VAWA petitioners? It is because VAWA protects not every person who is the spouse, parent, or child of certain US citizens or lawful permanent residents, but only to those who can demonstrate they were abused by their US citizen or lawful permanent resident family member. 

The process starts with submitting form I-360 with USCIS Vermont Service Center. The I-360 petition is free. The evidence in support of the petition would include proof of the necessary relationship between the abuser and the petitioner, evidence of abuse, the petitioner's good moral character, and in case of the petition by a spouse, evidence of the bona fide marriage. A self-petitioner would have to demonstrate that he or she resided or is residing with the abuser. It is an important requirement, because if the spouses, for example, have never shared a household, a self-petition may not be successful. It is possible for a spouse to submit a VAWA self-petition even after the divorce from the abuser, but it must be done within 2 years of the time the divorce became final. 

If granted, a VAWA self-petitioner automatically would receive employment authorization. A VAWA self-petitioner may be able to adjust their status to one of a permanent resident in the United States with certain advantages as opposed to persons who do not qualify for VAWA benefits. For example, a  VAWA self-petitioner is excused from the need to demonstrate they were inspected and admitted or paroled at the time they entered the United States. 

To learn more about VAWA benefits please visit New York Immigration lawyer website for more information. The law office of Alena Shautsova helps non-citizens to overcome their Immigration challenges and receive Immigration benefits in the USA. 

Legal Articles Additional Disclaimer is not a law firm and does not offer legal advice. Content posted on is the sole responsibility of the person from whom such content originated and is not reviewed or commented on by The application of law to any set of facts is a highly specialized skill, practiced by lawyers and often dependent on jurisdiction. Content on the site of a legal nature may or may not be accurate for a particular state or jurisdiction and may largely depend on specific circumstances surrounding individual cases, which may or may not be consistent with your circumstances or may no longer be up-to-date to the extent that laws have changed since posting. Legal articles therefore are for review as general research and for use in helping to gauge a lawyer's expertise on a matter. If you are seeking specific legal advice, recommends that you contact a lawyer to review your specific issues. See's full Terms of Use for more information.