What is the Vawa Visa and Requirements to apply for it?

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a major legal statute in the United States that offers protection and pathways to permanent residency for certain immigrant victims of abuse.

In this article, we will explore what the VAWA Visa is, who is eligible and what are the necessary requirements to apply.

What is the VAWA Visa?

VAWA allows certain immigrants who have been abused by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) to apply for a green card in the United States on their own, without the need for their abuser to participate in the process.

This law was created to protect victims of domestic violence and abuse by offering them a way to escape their abusers and gain legal independence in the US.

VAWA Visa Eligibility

The following groups may be eligible to apply under VAWA:

  1. Abused Spouses: Victims married to a U.S. citizen or LPR.
  2. Abused Children: Children under the age of 21, unmarried and abused by a U.S. citizen or LPR parent.
  3. Abused Parents: Parents of a U.S. citizen who have suffered abuse.

VAWA Application Requirements

To successfully apply under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), applicants must meet several critical requirements and provide adequate documentation to support their case.

  1. Relationship to Abuser Test:
    • For spouses: You must provide a marriage certificate to prove that you are married to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR). In the case of divorce, the marriage must have ended within the last two years due to abuse.
    • For children: A birth certificate or legal documentation showing the relationship to the abusive parent is required.
    • For parents: Documentation showing that you are the parent of an adult U.S. citizen, such as a birth certificate.
  2. Evidence of Abuse:
    • Medical and Police Reports: Documents showing physical or psychological injuries resulting from abuse.
    • Restraining Orders: If protective orders have been obtained against the abuser, include them.
    • Testimonial Statements: Statements from witnesses, counselors, social workers or health professionals who have observed the injuries or effects of abuse.
    • Personal Documents: Diaries, photos or correspondence evidencing the abuse.
  3. Joint Residency Test:
    • Ownership or Rental Documents: Lease agreements, property deeds or pay stubs showing that you lived with the abuser.
    • Joint Bills and Accounts: Utility bills, bank statements or insurance statements indicating that you both shared a residence.
  4. Good Moral Characteristic:
    • Criminal Record Certificates: You must show that you do not have a significant criminal history. This may include FBI or local police background checks.
    • Letters of Recommendation: Letters from employers, religious leaders or community members attesting to your character and behavior.
  5. Additionally for Abused Parents:
    • Proof of Parental Relationship: In the case of parents abused by an adult U.S. citizen child, it is necessary to prove the biological or legal relationship and provide evidence of the abuse.
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This table summarizes the VAWA Visa application requirements mentioned above.

CategoryRequirementDetails/Documentation Required
Relationship with the AbuserSpouses, children or parents of U.S. citizens or LPRsMarriage certificate, birth certificate, etc.
Evidence of AbuseDemonstration of physical or emotional abuseMedical reports, restraining orders, testimonials, etc.
Joint ResidenceEvidence of living with the abuserLease agreements, joint invoices, etc.
Good Moral CharacteristicDemonstration of good characterCertificates of criminal record, letters of recommendation
Form I-360Self-request formComplete and submit Form I-360
Supporting DocumentationAdditional evidence to support the applicationPersonal documents, photos, diaries, etc.
Payment of FeesIf applicablePayment of the required fees or request for exemption

Application Process

The VAWA Visa application process includes:

  1. Self-Petition: Complete and submit Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er) and Special Immigrant Petition.
  2. Documentation: Attach all necessary evidence, including proof of abuse and relationship.
  3. Waiting and Status: Once the request has been submitted, the applicant will receive a receipt and eventually a notification of approval or rejection. During this period, the applicant may be eligible for a work permit.

Important Considerations

  • Confidentiality: Application under VAWA is a confidential process. The abuser will not be notified of the application.
  • No Legal Status Required: You may apply even if you do not have legal status in the U.S.
  • Legal Advice: Since the process can be complicated, it is recommended to seek specialized legal advice.

The VAWA Visa is a vital tool to protect victims of abuse and domestic violence, offering them a path to a safe and stable life in the United States.

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If you or someone you know is considering applying under VAWA, it is essential to seek proper help and advice to ensure a successful application.

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