VAWA: The Complete Guide to Understand How It Works

In a world that is constantly evolving, and sometimes so full of cruelty, it is crucial to stay informed about the laws and regulations that can affect our lives. One of these important laws is the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore in detail what is VAWA, from the eligibility criteria and process, to the benefits and possible questions that often overwhelm applicants. At Jaskot Law, we know how stressful this process can be, so we will guide you to a more secure future in the United States.

Table of Contents

    What is VAWA?

    The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a crucial piece of legislation that focuses on preventing and addressing gender-based violence. It was enacted in the United States in 1994, and had a significant impact on the fight to eradicate violence against women, men and children.

    Since its inception, VAWA has been a beacon of hope for victims of gender-based violence. It also evolved over time, adapting to the changing needs of society. Here we will explore what is VAWA in detail, and all that is involved in this important law.

    What does VAWA self-petitioning involve?

    VAWA self-petitioning allows eligible victims the opportunity to obtain permanent residency in the U.S. on their own. This gives them greater control over their immigration process and frees them from dependence on abusive family members or partners.

    As self-petitioners, immigrant survivors who qualify for a green card based on extreme cruelty under VAWA can apply without relying on their abuser. In this way, it is not necessary for the spouse or family members of the abuser to sponsor the victim filing the immigration petition.

    Eligibility criteria for VAWA self-petitioning

    Within the eligibility criteria for the VAWA resource, some of the most important and not to be missed requirements are the following four:

    Eligibility requirements
    Victim of Violence: The self-petitioner must have suffered domestic violence or be a victim of abuse or certain crimes specified by the authorities.
    Good Moral Character: To be eligible, the applicant is expected to demonstrate good moral character.
    U.S. Residency: The victim’s abuser must reside in the United States at the time of filing the VAWA self-petition.
    Relationship to Eligible Offender: The relationship to the offender must meet certain criteria, such as having a marital or parental relationship.

    These are the fundamental requirements to be able to self-petition for VAWA. However, there may be additional requirements on a case-by-case basis. If you want to make sure you comply with them, at Jaskot Law we can help you. Contact us!

    The resource that is VAWA provides safety, resources, and independence in filing for victims of violence of various kinds.
    The resource that is VAWA provides safety, resources, and independence in filing for victims of violence of various kinds.

    What Do I Need to Self-petition for the Resource that is VAWA?

    To file a self-petition for the VAWA remedy, you need to gather certain documents and resources. These are some of the key elements you should have ready:

    • Form I-360: It is the main petition form to apply for the VAWA visa. You must complete it accurately and sign it.
    • Personal Statement: In this document, you will have the opportunity to tell your story, so it is important that you write it in your own words, as it will add credibility when analyzing your case.
    • Evidence of Eligibility: This includes evidence of your relationship with the abusive spouse, and evidence of abuse or extreme cruelty, along with evidence of your good moral character.
    • Evidence of the Relationship: Documents such as marriage certificates, birth records of children in common, and photographs showing your relationship with the abusive spouse.
    • Pruebas de abuso: para poder demostrar el abuso o crueldad sufridos, puedes presentar documentos como los siguientes:
      • Police reports
      • Restriction orders
      • Medical records
      • Letters from counselors supporting the existence of abuse
    • Proof of Good Moral Character: This includes criminal records, credit reports, and letters of recommendation that demonstrate your good moral character.

    Remember that the VAWA visa application process can be complicated, and it is critical to provide solid evidence to support your case. If you have questions or need guidance, do not hesitate to seek legal advice.

    Applying for a VAWA Visa from Another Country: Is it Possible?

    The answer is yes, it is possible. Geographic location is not any hindrance to filing a self-petition under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). However, it is always important that eligibility requirements are met, and that proper procedures are followed, otherwise you will lose eligibility.

    Special Cases of the Resource that is VAWA

    Within the scope of VAWA, there are some special cases in which petitioners may qualify for additional protections. Two of these special cases are:

    Special Case 1:
    Forgiveness of Battered Spouse or Child
    Under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), victims of battering who are conditional lawful permanent residents can apply for a pardon from their abusive spouse to remove the “conditional” from their status.

    Normally, after two years of marriage to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, they can apply through a “joint petition”. However, if there is domestic violence and the abusive spouse refuses, VAWA allows you to apply for a “waiver” to eliminate this requirement.

    In addition, if their children obtained conditional residency at the same time or within 90 days thereafter, they can obtain a waiver based on spousal abuse. Otherwise, the children would request their own forgiveness as “derivatives.”
    Special Case 2:
    VAWA Cancellation of Removal
    If you are facing deportation proceedings before an immigration judge, and you are being abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or parent, or if your child in common with a citizen or resident is being abused, you may be able to seek cancellation of removal under VAWA. If approved, removal proceedings are terminated, and you can obtain permanent residency.

    It is crucial to have an experienced VAWA attorney for advice and representation. Do not hesitate to consult Jaskot Law and our team of specialized attorneys, who will be able to help you.

    VAWA Visa Approval Timeframe and its Benefits

    The time for approval of a VAWA visa self-petition can vary considerably. Given the number of applications received, the complexity of each case, and the constant changes in policies, it is difficult to predict an exact time frame.

    On average, USCIS can take 12 to 24 months or more to make a final decision and give you access to the immigration remedy that is VAWA. It is important that you be patient and stay alert to any notifications that may come your way.

    Benefits that Accrue upon Approval of the VAWA Visa

    After the approval of the VAWA visa, victims of domestic violence find valuable assistance. Among the many benefits of this resource are:

    • Protection from Deportation: With VAWA, you may be able to avoid being deported if you are a victim of domestic violence.
    • Eligibility for Permanent Residency: Upon approval, you have the opportunity to obtain legal permanent residency in the United States.
    • Access to Resources: In addition to the protection VAWA provides, you also have access to resources such as emotional support and counseling services.
    • Inclusion of Children: After approval, you can apply for benefits for abused children.
    • Security and Control: You will also gain greater security and control over your immigration status to live without fear within the country.

    Application for Permanent Residency upon Approval of the resource that is VAWA

    As noted above, upon approval, applicants are eligible for VAWA permanent residency for self-petitioners. To do so, according to the USCIS, you must meet the following requirements:

    • File Form I-485 correctly.
    • Be physically present in the U.S. at the time of filing Form I-485.
    • Meet the applicable immigrant visa requirements.
    • Have an immigrant visa available when filing Form I-485 and at the time USCIS makes a decision.
    • Not be subject to grounds of inadmissibility.
    • Be admissible or eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility or other immigration waiver.
    • Merit favorable discretion by USCIS.

    If you meet these requirements and obtain permanent residency, you can work your way towards citizenship after five years of being a permanent resident in the country. If you are overwhelmed by so much information, don’t worry, at Jaskot Law, we offer you the peace of mind and security of our team.

    Permanent Residency for VAWA Self-petitioner: Grounds for Inadmissibility

    Previously, it was mentioned that in order to access permanent residency through the resource that is VAWA, you must be admissible. For this reason, here are the possible reasons why USCIS could consider you inadmissible and reject your application:

    Serious Criminal ActivityFelony convictions may cause you to be inadmissible.
    Violations of Immigration LawsEntering the U.S. illegally or violating immigration laws may be another cause.
    Danger to Public SafetyIf the person is deemed to pose a threat to public safety, he or she will be declared inadmissible.
    Public ChargeIf the person is dependent on public assistance or the authorities determine that he or she would incur a burden on the government, he or she may be inadmissible.
    False StatementsLying or providing false information in immigration proceedings may cause you to be inadmissible.
    Previous DeportationsIf you were previously deported, there may be inadmissibility.
    Upon approval of the valuable resource that is VAWA, victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or other similar types of crimes gain access to a variety of benefits.
    Upon approval of the valuable resource that is VAWA, victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or other similar types of crimes gain access to a variety of benefits.

    Other Frequently Asked Questions about the Resource that is VAWA

    What is the Difference between VAWA Visa and T Visa?

    While both types of visas were designed to offer protection and benefits to victims of violence, they are not exactly the same. The main differences between these visas lie in the type of crime they cover and the requirements to access them.

    As for the VAWA visa, it applies to victims of domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault or related crimes, who must prove physical or mental abuse and cooperate with authorities during the prosecution and investigation of their case. The T visa, on the other hand, applies only to immigrants who were victims of human trafficking and who, for this reason, are in the United States.

    Can Only Women Victims of Violence Access the resource that is VAWA?

    While VAWA was created and is generally focused on providing protection for women victims of violence, it also provides opportunities and access to the same benefits and resources to people of other genders and sexual orientations. For this reason, many others may also seek protection and legal status in the United States if they qualify.

    What is the Prima Facie Notice, and What Follows after my VAWA Visa Application is Approved?

    Prior to approval of the VAWA visa, the USCIS will likely issue a Prima Facie Notice. This notification constitutes a positive step in the case, but does not establish its approval. In fact, it only indicates that the petition requirements were met, and therefore the case was initiated.

    Upon approval, and as mentioned above, beneficiaries may have access to services and resources such as emotional such as emotional support, legal advice, emergency housing, medical assistance, and job training programs.


    The VAWA or Violence Against Women Act plays a fundamental role in the protection of people who suffer gender-based violence and other types of violence. Over the years, it has provided support to countless victims and helped change the culture around gender-based violence.

    Ultimately, VAWA represents a significant step toward gender equality and the protection of people of all genders and sexual orientations from violence. It will also continue to play a crucial role in promoting a safer and more equitable world.

    Be sure to navigate the complex application process that is VAWA with peace of mind and confidence to obtain favorable results. At Jaskot Law, our team of immigration law attorneys can make it happen. Do not hesitate to contact us!



    Permanent Residency for VAWA Self-Petitioner

    Conditional Permanent Residence

    I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant

    I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status

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    VAWA for parents of a citizen child: a step-by-step guide

    VAWA and T Visa: Which is the best option for victims of domestic violence?

    VAWA FAQS: What does Prima Facie determination involve in a VAWA case?

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