VAWA and criminal records

If you find yourself in a complex situation involving violence or abuse, one of the resources that can provide you with the tools you need to obtain protection and legal status is the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

As you go through the process, questions often arise about this legislation, but one of the most common is: can I apply for VAWA if I have a criminal record? Yes, while you can apply even if you have a criminal record, each case is unique, and will involve different steps in the process.

It is important to understand the specific requirements and considerations surrounding this process. That is why, at Jaskot Law, we will explore in detail whether you can apply for VAWA if you have a criminal record, provide key information, helpful tips, and answers to frequently asked questions.

Table of Contents

    Busting myths: Can you apply for VAWA if you have a criminal record?

    VAWA is a crucial legislation designed to provide protection and assistance to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, abuse, and other similar crimes. This law allows victims, regardless of their immigration status, to apply for permanent residency in the United States without relying on a sponsoring family member.

    This law establishes certain fundamental requirements for eligibility, which include being a victim of abuse by a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Although having a criminal record can complicate the process, it does not necessarily automatically exclude you.

    The relationship between criminal records and VAWA

    One of the most common myths surrounding VAWA is that one cannot apply while having a criminal record. However, this is not necessarily the case, as it is possible to apply even if you have a criminal record, but with a number of extra steps in the process.

    Based on a common myth, people ask, "can I apply for VAWA if I have a criminal record?" The answer is yes, you can apply, but each case is unique.
    Based on a common myth, people ask, “can I apply for VAWA if I have a criminal record?” The answer is YES, you can apply, but each case is unique.

    VAWA is focused on providing protection to victims of violence, and having a criminal record does not automatically exclude someone from being eligible for the protection it offers. However, each case is unique, and is evaluated on an individual basis.

    If I can apply for VAWA if I have a criminal record, what is the process?

    The process for applying for VAWA with a criminal record follows the same general steps as any other application under this legislation. However, you should pay attention to how you present your case in relation to the records. Here are the key steps:

    Step 1: Evidence GatheringGather evidence to support your case, including documents showing the abusive relationship or evidence linking your criminal record to the abuse, such as witness testimony or police reports.
    Step 2: Legal ConsultationBefore submitting your application, seek legal advice from a specialized attorney. Openly discuss your background, and how it relates to the abuse.
    Step 3: Submission of the ApplicationComplete all the necessary forms, and submit your application along with the collected evidence. Be sure to clearly explain the connection between your background and the violence.
    Step 4: Follow-up and ResponseAfter submitting your application, it is important that you prepare to respond to any requests for additional information from immigration officials.

    Navigating this process can be complex due to all the documentation and evidence you must gather and submit. But don’t worry, at Jaskot Law, we can guide you step by step, so you can do it with peace of mind.

    Case-by-case evaluation

    When an individual with a criminal record considers applying for VAWA, a thorough assessment of his or her situation will be conducted. Some of the key factors that will be analyzed are:

    • Nature of the criminal record
    • Relationship between your records, and the violence suffered by the victim
    • Time elapsed since the offenses occurred.

    It is essential to provide solid documentation and evidence to support the application and demonstrate that the individual in question meets the requirements established by law.

    can i apply for vawa if i have a criminal record?
    If you apply for VAWA with a criminal record, a thorough evaluation of your situation will be conducted to analyze the approval or denial of your case.

    Waiver of VAWA grounds of inadmissibility due to criminal record

    In some cases, individuals with criminal records may be considered “inadmissible” under immigration law. However, VAWA offers the possibility to apply for a waiver of these grounds of inadmissibility by filing Form I-601, also known as “Immigration Waiver.”

    This involves demonstrating that the person’s presence in the country is necessary to protect his or her safety and well-being, and that his or her contribution to society outweighs any concerns about a criminal record. When filling the form, attention must be paid to the following details, otherwise the USCIS may reject it:

    Part 1 – Information about you– Last name
    – Mailing address
    – Date of birth

    Don’t let a distraction or a minor error in filling out the form causes your application to be denied. With our attorneys at Jaskot Law, you can do so with confidence and obtain a positive result. Contact us!

    Children with criminal records in VAWA cases for abused parents

    In cases of domestic violence victims who wish to apply for VAWA, the status of the children may also be a factor to consider. In fact, if a minor child has a criminal record, this does not necessarily disqualify the abused parent from VAWA relief.

    As in adult cases, immigration authorities will assess the situation on an individual basis, and consider factors such as the severity of the records, the relationship to the abuse suffered, and other relevant elements.

    Review and approval process

    Once you have submitted your application, it will be thoroughly reviewed by the immigration authorities. The review process may take a long time, so it is important to be patient during this period, and to be alert to possible communications from these authorities.

    If your application is approved, you will be able to move forward in the process, and begin working on obtaining permanent residency in the United States under the protection of VAWA. It should be clarified that the more documentation presented and the higher its level of clarity and veracity, the greater the probability of success.


    In short, the answer to the question “can I apply for VAWA if I have a criminal record?” is YES, so it is a common misconception and a myth that doing so is not possible. The reality is that each case is unique, and is evaluated on an individual basis.

    If you have a criminal record and are a victim of domestic violence or other similar crimes, it is important that you seek legal advice to understand your situation and how to proceed correctly. Our specialized VAWA attorneys can guide you to a favorable outcome.



    Form I-601

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Does my criminal record automatically disqualify me for VAWA?

    Not necessarily. Although having a criminal record may complicate your case, it does not automatically disqualify you. The key is to demonstrate the relationship between the records and the violence suffered.

    How can I prove that my background is related to violence?

    You can present evidence such as witness testimony, police reports, and any other documentation that demonstrates how your records are linked to the abusive situation.

    How long does the VAWA application process take?

    The time frame can vary, but it usually takes several months for USCIS to make a decision. It is important to be patient and cooperate fully with immigration officials.

    Can I work while my VAWA application is being processed?

    Yes, you can apply for a work permit while your VAWA application is in process. This will allow you to work legally in the United States.