Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)


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Under President Clinton's Administration, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 1994. VAWA allows non-U.S. citizens who have been victims of violence to find a way toward immigration.


One of the main requirements to be eligible under VAWA is to be a spouse of a child of an abusive U.S. citizen or permanent resident. VAWA protects victims of violence to obtain immigration status by not letting the abuser know or be involved in the immigration process. In other words, a victim of violence can self-petition throughout the immigration status process without the abuser knowing.


Once eligibility for VAWA is determined, the Form I-360 Self-Petition (VAWA petition) is submitted with additional documents such as evidence of abuse and proof of the relationship to the abuser. In the majority of cases, if the VAWA petition is approved, the victim will not be removed or deported. In some cases, applicants are also available for work authorization.


After the VAWA petition, the applicant can begin to apply for permanent residence in the U.S. by completing a criminal background check and a medical exam.


Mil Mujeres provides services and assistance with VAWA. For more information, please email questions@milmujeres.org or call (202) 808-3311.