VAWA – the “Violence Against Women Act” – is a very powerful piece of legislation that has been successful in protecting abused spouses and children. Although it is called the “Violence Against Women Act” it applies to all spouses, including abused men, and children. It can be a path to getting out of the abusive relationship, obtaining employment authorization, and getting a green card so the person can begin a new life in the United States.

There are three basic requirements for VAWA eligibility: 1) You had a bona fide marriage, that is, you entered a marriage in good faith with a United States citizen or permanent resident (“green card” holder) spouse ; 2) You were in an abusive relationship; and; 3) You are a person of good moral character. A VAWA petition may still be filed if the petitioner is divorced, but the petition must be filed within 2 years of the finalization of the divorce.

VAWA is specifically designed to immigrants in abusive relationships, including spouses, both male and female, and children. Many immigrants in abusive relationships are, understandably, afraid to file VAWA petitions because they think that the abusive spouses are going to hurt them by reporting them to the immigration services when they find out. VAWA, however, has very specific provisions to protect the abused spouses and children legally. First VAWA is a highly confidential matter. Any kind of investigation will be done very discreetly. Second, there are special provisions under the Immigration Laws that prevent information from the abusive spouses and their families to be used against the abused immigrant. There are few exceptions to this. In fact, it is an offense punishable by fine if an immigration officer crosses lines drawn by VAWA.

This article is a very brief introduction to VAWA and its benefits. The application process can be difficult and complex. If you find yourself in a potential VAWA situation, it is highly recommended to consult an attorney or an experienced organization which can help you. Remember you do not have stay in abusive relationship!

Please call us at 415 643 4342 or 510 7425887 should you need help.