Battered spouses, children or parents of U.S. citizens, along with spouses and children of lawful permanent residents, can all be eligible for immigration protections under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). VAWA is part of the Immigration and Naturalization Act.
Basically, if you are being abused by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (green card holder), you could be eligible for protection. This includes applying for immigration status of your own. You can apply without your abuser’s knowledge.
Once you receive VAWA protection, your protection is permanent and does not require reauthorization. You may also be able to work in the United States.
Your eligibility depends on your relationship to the abuser
VAWA protects men, women and children. You may file for VAWA protection if you are the spouse or child or a green card holder or a spouse, child or parent of a U.S. citizen.
Spouse: If you are being or were abused by your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse, you can apply. You can also apply for protection for yourself if your child is or was abused by your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse. If your children are unmarried and under 21 and have not applied for protection themselves, you can include them on your petition.
Child: If you are unmarried and under 25, you can apply for protection if you have been abused by your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident parent. If you are over 21, you must demonstrate that the abuse was the main reason you didn’t apply earlier.
Parent: If you are being or were abused by your U.S. citizen son or daughter, you can apply for protection.
Working in the U.S.
To work legally in the U.S., you will need an approved Form I-360. You may already have this. It is acceptable if you have been placed in deferred action. If you do not have an approved Form I-360, you will need to file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
Permanent residency and citizenship
Once you have an approved Form I-360, you could be eligible for a green card (lawful permanent residency). Your children listed on your VAWA application may also be eligible for a green card. Once you have a green card, you can apply for U.S. citizenship after five years.
If you are currently being abused, or if you have been abused in the past, you may be eligible for VAWA protection. Contact Yew Immigration Law Group about your options. Attorney Alison Yew is a board certified specialist in immigration law, and she can help.