The Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”) is a law designed to protect immigrants – not simply immigrant women – from abuse by their spouses who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. Non-citizen spouses are especially vulnerable to domestic abuse. They are often pressured to remain in abusive marriages when their spouse threatens to not help them gain legal status, or to have them deported. Abused, non-citizen, spouses often remain trapped in violent and abusive relationships out of fear: of being physically harmed; of being separated from their children; or due to their lack of financial resources. Abused spouses often feel intimidated and overwhelmed, by the traumas they have endured, and as a result of their unfamiliarity with the American legal system.
The VAWA protects an abused spouse whether a man or woman – by enabling them to leave their abuser without giving up their chance to become a lawful permanent resident. It allows them to file a “self-petition”, which if approved, will allow them to then apply to become a lawful permanent resident. It eliminates the need for any assistance from their abusive spouse. This takes away the abuser’s power and control over their non-citizen spouse. A self-petitioning spouse is still required to show they entered into their marriage in good faith, and that they were physically abused, or subjected to extreme mental cruelty, by their U.S citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse. It doesn’t matter whether the abused spouse who seeks VAWA protection is a man or a woman!
Our firm has successfully handled many VAWA cases. We’ve helped both men and women – become lawful permanent through VAWA, and we have done so with compassion and discretion. If you know someone who may benefit from the VAWA, please feel free to contact our firm to schedule a consultation.