Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

The VAWA provisions in the Immigration and Nationality Act apply equally to women and men who have been abused by certain U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident family members. VAWA may allow you to apply for a work permit and to become a lawful permanent resident without leaving the United States, even if you entered the United States illegally.

VAWA allows certain spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizens and certain spouses and children of permanent residents (Green Card holders) to file a petition for themselves, without the abuser’s knowledge.

  • 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 file as an abused spouse if your child has been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse. An abused spouse’s petition may include unmarried children who are under 21 if they have not filed for themselves.
  • Parent: You may 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 also 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.