The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) provides protections for victims of domestic violence and an option for the victim to apply for lawful permanent residence in the United States. Lawful permanent residence is also known as a green card.
It can be overwhelming to try to start a new life under domestic violence circumstances and victims should know that there is support available to guide them through this process.
To qualify for a green card based on domestic violence, you must have been the victim of physical or emotional abuse, or both, by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.
Under VAWA, you can file a petition for the green card without your abuser’s knowledge or consent. This is unlike other green card processes where you must have a family member or employer sponsor you. You must show that you are a person of good moral character, meaning that you have not committed certain types of serious crimes.
You may need to provide evidence of your relationship with the abuser and documentation of the abuse, which may be available in medical records or through witness statements.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will interview you, where they may ask questions about your eligibility under VAWA.
Once your application is approved, you will receive a green card which allows you to have lawful permanent residence in the United States. You can also apply for a work authorization so you can legally work in the United States.