The Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”) is a federal act designed to protect both men and women from violent domestic situations. VAWA allows abused spouses of U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents to self-file an immigrant visa petition without the abuser’s knowledge. Because the application is strictly confidential, filers should not worry that their spouses will find out.
By going the self-petition route, an applicant can get permanent residency without his/her spouse. The applicant must show that he/she entered the marriage in good faith (i.e., you should not have married only to get permanent residency), that the abusing spouse is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, that you have lived with said spouse, that you are otherwise a person of upstanding character, and that you have been exposed to extreme cruelty. Physical abuse is not the only type of abuse. Psychological abuse also qualifies, e.g., the abuse may come in the form of a threat to have the spouse deported. Note that although the name of the law specifies ‘women’, men may also apply for this this type of relief.
Please contact our office for further information and a consultation if you believe you qualify for VAWA relief and would like to file this type of application.