Battered Spouse, Parent or Child (VAWA)

As a battered spouse, child or parent, you may file an immigrant visa petition under the Violence against Women Act (VAWA). VAWA allows certain spouses, children and parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents to self-petition without the abuser knowing about it. This will allow the applicant to seek safety and independence from the abuser. The provisions of VAWA apply equally to women and men. The abuser will not be notified that the applicant filed for immigration benefits under VAWA.

Help is also available from the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233. The hotline has information about shelters, mental health care, legal advice and other types of assistance.

Class

  • Spouse: You may file for yourself if you are, or were, the abused spouse of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. You may also include on your petition your unmarried children who are under 21 if they have not filed for themselves.
  • Parent: You may file for yourself if you are the parent of a child who has been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse. You may include on your petition your children, including those who have not been abused, if they have not filed for themselves. You may also file if you are the parent of a U.S. citizen, and you have been abused by your U.S. citizen son or daughter.
  • Child: You may file for yourself if you are an abused child under 21, unmarried and have been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent. Your children may also be included on your petition. You may file for yourself as a child after age 21 but before age 25 if you can demonstrate that the abuse was the main reason for the delay in filing.

Eligibility of a Spouse

  • Married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident abuser, or your marriage to the abuser was terminated by death or a divorce (related to the abuse) within the 2 years prior to filing, or your spouse lost or renounced citizenship or permanent resident status within the 2 years prior to filing due to an incident of domestic violence, or you believed that you were legally married to your abusive U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse but the marriage was not legitimate solely because of the bigamy of your abusive spouse
  • Have been abused in the United States by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, or have been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse abroad while your spouse was employed by the U.S. government or a member of the U.S. uniformed services, or are the parent of a child who has been subjected to abuse by your U.S. citizen or permanent spouse
  • Entered into the marriage in good faith, not solely for immigration benefits
  • Have resided with your spouse
  • Are a person of good moral character

Eligibility of a Child

  • Are the child of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident abuser
  • Were the child of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident abuser who lost citizenship or lawful permanent resident status due to an incident of domestic violence
  • Have been abused in the United States by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent
  • Have been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent abroad while your parent was employed by the U.S. government or a member of the U.S. uniformed services
  • Have resided with the abusive parent
  • Have evidence to prove your relationship to your parent
  • Are a person of good moral character if you are over the age of 14

Eligibility of a Parent

  • You are the parent of a U.S. citizen son or daughter or were the parent of a U.S. citizen son or daughter who lost or renounced citizenship status related to an incident of domestic violence or died within 2 years prior to filing
  • You have been abused by your U.S. citizen son or daughter
  • You have resided with the abusive son or daughter
  • You are a person of good moral character

Working in the United States

If you have an approved battered spouse petition and have been placed in deferred action, you are eligible to apply to work in the United States. Your children listed on your approved petition may also apply for work authorization.

Permanent Residence

Once you receive the approved battered spouse petition then you may be eligible to file for adjustment of status (green card), which may include your children.