En Español
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or (TTY) 1-800-787-3224

Know the Laws:

UPDATED April 20, 2013

VAWA Laws for Abuse Victims

Print this page
View by Section

Immigration laws can be extremely complicated.  Here we provide some basic information about immigration benefits available to victims of domestic violence. WomensLaw.org strongly recommends that you consult with an immigration lawyer with experience in VAWA before applying for any type of immigration status to see if you qualify for these or other forms of immigration relief.  You may contact us through our Email Hotline if you would like referrals to organizations with experience in VAWA in your state. For national organizations with experience in general immigration law, please see our Immigration/ International page.  You can also find legal referrals on our Finding a Lawyer page.

Basic info and definitions

back to topWhat is VAWA?

VAWA is the acronym for the Violence Against Women Act, which was passed by Congress in 1994.  Among other things, VAWA created special provisions in United States immigration law to protect victims of abuse who are not citizens of the United States.  In cases of domestic violence, US immigration law allows certain victims of abuse who are not citizens to obtain lawful status without having to rely on their abuser to petition.

Normally, if you are a spouse, child or parent of a US citizen (USC) or a spouse or child of a legal permanent resident (LPR) and you want to obtain lawful permanent resident status (commonly referred to as having a “green card”), the USC or LPR has to file a petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and may need to go with you to an interview with Immigration authorities.

Also, if your marriage is less than two years old when you obtain your LPR status, you would normally get what is called “conditional permanent residence,” (commonly known as a “conditional green card”).  Your spouse would then normally need to file a joint petition with you to remove the “condition” so that you can obtain full lawful permanent residence.

However, in relationships of domestic violence, these requirements for the USC or LPR’s participation are often used by an abuser as a form of abuse, gaining power and control over the immigration status of the victim.  Therefore, US immigration law allows certain noncitizen victims of abuse to get legal status on their own without involving the abuser to file anything for the victim.

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topWhat does USC mean? What does LPR mean?

Throughout this section, we will use the abbreviations USC and LPR. “USC” stands for US citizen.  “LPR” stands for legal permanent resident.   A legal permanent resident is also commonly referred to as someone who has a "green card” or who is a “green card holder.”

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topWhat is a derivative?

A derivative is a person who is not a citizen of the US that may be eligible to receive immigration status through the application for immigration status of another non-citizen who is the principal applicant.  So, for example, an abused person applying for a VAWA self-petition may be able to apply for his/her children as derivatives on his/her application.

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topWhat do "inadmissibility grounds" mean?

Inadmissibility grounds are reasons why people cannot be “admitted” into the US (for example, having to do with certain criminal convictions, with committing different types of fraud, among others).  Inadmissibility grounds, in other words, are reasons why you may not be able to receive an immigration benefit.  An immigration attorney with experience in VAWA can tell you if you fall under one or more of the inadmissibility grounds, and also if there are exemptions or waivers (pardons) available to you.

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topIf I am a victim of abuse, are there protections available for me under VAWA?

There are three possible forms of relief under VAWA that have their own set of requirements:

1) VAWA self-petition

You may be eligible to "self-petition” for lawful permanent residence without the assistance of the abuser if you are abused by:

  • your US citizen (USC) or legal permanent resident (LPR) spouse (or if that spouse has abused your child);
  • your USC or LPR parent (including a step-parent); or
  • your USC adult son or daughter (not an LPR son or daughter).*
For more information on VAWA self-petitions, go to our VAWA self-petition page.

2) Battered spouse or child waiver
You may be able to apply for a “battered spouse or child waiver” if you have conditional legal permanent residence as a spouse (and in certain circumstances as a child) of a USC or LPR, and the USC or LPR has abused you.  With a battered spouse or child waiver, the abuser does not have to file the joint petition with you.**

For more information on battered spouse and child waivers, go to our Battered spouse or child waiver page.

3) VAWA cancellation of removal
If you are in removal proceedings (formerly known as deportation proceedings) before an immigration judge, and you are abused by your USC or LPR spouse or parent (or you have a child with the USC or LPR who is abused by him/her), it might be possible to apply for “VAWA cancellation of removal.”***  However, because in order to be eligible to apply for VAWA cancellation of removal you have to be in removal proceedings, it is extremely important that you have an immigration attorney with experience in VAWA to advise you and represent you.

For more information, go to our VAWA cancellation of removal page.

Note: Because immigration procedures are so complex, we strongly suggest you consult with an immigration lawyer who has experience with VAWA.  Our Immigration/ International page lists organizations working on the area of immigration law and our Finding a Lawyer page includes the contact information of legal organizations and lawyer referral services by state.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, but do not think that you qualify for immigration relief under VAWA, there may be other ways that you can obtain lawful immigration status in the United States.  For example, If you were not married to the abuser or the abuser was not a USC or LPR, you may still qualify for U nonimmigrant status - please see our U Visa Laws for Crime Victims page.  The best way to determine your eligibility is to discuss your personal situation with an immigration attorney with experience in VAWA.

* INA § 204(a)(1)(A) & (B)
** INA § 216(c)(4)(C)
*** INA § 240A(b)(2)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topCan men qualify for VAWA?

Yes.  Even though the law has the word “women” in the title, abused men may also apply for relief under VAWA as long as they meet the eligibility requirements.*

* USCIS website - Questions and Answers: Battered Spouses, Children and Parents under the Violence against Women Act (VAWA)

Did you find this information helpful?

VAWA self-petition

back to topWhat is a VAWA self-petition?

A self-petition is a way to apply for lawful status in the US on your own by submitting an application to the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) requesting lawful status in the US without the assistance of the abuser.  This application is called a self-petition because you are applying for legal status by yourself and you are not sponsored by anyone.  You may be eligible to self-petition for lawful permanent residence without the assistance of the abuser if you are abused by:

  • your spouse and s/he is US citizen (USC) or legal permanent resident (LPR) (or if you are the spouse of a USC or LPR and s/he has abused your child),
  • a USC or LPR parent (including a step-parent), or
  • a USC adult son or daughter (not LPR son or daughter).*
  • Note: Please continue on to the next question (Who is eligible to self-petition?) because these categories are explained in more detail.
To determine if you qualify for a VAWA self-petition or another form of immigration relief, you should consult an immigration lawyer with experience in VAWA.  Our Immigration/ International page lists national organizations working in the area of immigration law and our Finding a Lawyer page includes the contact information of legal organizations and lawyer referral services by state.

* INA § 204(a)(1)(A) & (B)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topWho is eligible to self-petition?

Immigration law allows the following relatives of abusive US citizens (USC) and legal permanent residents (LPR) to self-petition for lawful status in the US (if they meet all other self-petitioning requirements under VAWA):

  • Abused spouses of a USC or LPR, and the abused spouse’s children if they are under 21 years old and unmarried (the children would be included in the spouse's application as "derivatives");*
  • Non-abused spouses of a USC or LPR if the USC or LPR spouse has abused your unmarried and under 21 child. The non-abused spouse’s children who are under 21 years old and unmarried may also be eligible (the children would be included in the spouse's application as derivatives);*
  • Abused children (under 21 years old and unmarried) of a USC or LPR, and their children (under 21 years old and unmarried) as derivatives.**  Note: It may be possible for an abused child between the ages of 21 and 25 to self-petition if s/he can show s/he qualified when she was under 21 and the abuse was at least one central reason for the delay in filing.***
  • Abused parents of a USC (not LPR) son or daughter (son/daughter must be over 21 years old).****
  • Note: In the following questions, you will find information about additional requirements for each of the above categories. It is important that you read these to fully understand what you may have to prove to qualify.
* INA § 204(a)(1)(A)(iii), INA § 204 (a)(1)(B)(ii)
** INA § 204(a)(1)(A)(iv), INA § 204(a)(1)(B)(iii)
*** INA § 204(a)(1)(D)(v)
**** INA § 204(a)(1)(A)(vii)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topDoes a same-sex marriage count as being "married" to the abuser for immigration purposes?

Yes.  A marriage is valid under immigration law if it is valid in the jurisdiction where it took place unless there's a U.S. national policy that over-rides it.  When the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was in place, same-sex marriages were not valid under immigration law.   However, now that DOMA was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2013, USCIS (Immigration) should recognize same-sex marriages for purposes of qualifying for VAWA.

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topDoes a common-law marriage count as being "married" to the abuser for immigration purposes?

A marriage is valid under immigration law if it is valid in the jurisdiction where it took place unless there's a U.S. national policy that over-rides it.   For purposes of common-law marriages, a common-law marriage can be valid under immigration law as long as it was formed in a U.S. state or a country that recognizes common-law marriages under the law.  In other words, you and your spouse must have lived in a state that recognizes common-law marriages and you must have met the legal definition of common-law marriage in that state.  If a common-law marriage was properly, validly formed in a state that recognizes such marriages, it can be still be valid even if you are now applying for VAWA in a different state.*  For a list of U.S. states that recognize common-law marriage and each state's legal requirements, click here

Immigration officials may look at the following factors to determine if you have a valid common-law marriage:

  • When and where did the relationship begin?
  • What was the intent of you and the abuser with respect to what the relationship was to be?
  • Were you generally known as spouses by neighbors, friends, and the community?
  • Did either of you introduce one another as a spouse?
  • Did either of you purchase a life insurance policy describing one or the other as the beneficiary spouse?
  • Is there birth registration or school registration of your children showing each of you as the parents?
  • Is there a credit card account describing one of you as the spouse of the other?
  • Did either of you name the other one as the beneficiary spouse of the other’s pension rights?
  • Is there any other information that would tend to demonstrate that you both have, from the beginning, lived the type of existence that would be normal for a lawfully married couple?*
For help in gathering the necessary evidence to prove that you had a valid common-law marriage, please talk to an attorney who is properly trained in filing VAWA self-petitions – please do not attempt to apply for a VAWA self-petition on your own.  For national organizations with experience in general immigration law, please see our Immigration/ International page. You can also find legal referrals by state on our Finding a Lawyer page.

* See USCIS website, Adjudicator's Field Manual, section 74.2(e)(no longer available online); see also USCIS Policy Manual, Part G, Chapter 2(B)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topWhat are some additional requirements to self-petition under VAWA as the spouse of a USC or LPR?

In addition to meeting the abusive relationship requirement explained in Who is eligible to self-petition? you must meet all additional requirements listed below if you are self-petitioning as the spouse of an abusive US citizen (USC) or legal permanent resident (LPR):

  • Marriage to a USC or LPR: You must meet one of the following:
    • be married to a USC/LPR (including common-law marriage);
    • your USC spouse (not LPR) died within the past 2 years;
    • your USC/LPR spouse lost his/her citizenship or residency within the past two years related to an incident of domestic violence;
    • you believed that you married a USC/LPR and a marriage ceremony was performed but you later found out that your marriage was not valid because your spouse was committing bigamy (s/he was already married when s/he “married” you); or
    • you were divorced from your USC/LPR spouse within the past two years and you can show a connection between the abuse that you suffered and the divorce.*
  • The marriage was a good faith marriage:*1 You married in good faith and not only to obtain immigration benefits.*2
  • Battery or extreme cruelty: During your marriage, your USC/LPR spouse must have battered (physically abused) you or your child or subjected you or your child to “extreme cruelty.”*3  Extreme cruelty is any form of power and control, including but not limited to, the following:
    • being a victim of any act or threatened act of violence, including any forcible detention that results in physical or mental harm, psychological or sexual abuse, rape, molestation, incest, forced prostitution, and acts that may not appear violent but are part of a pattern of violence.*4  Note: You must have been abused in the United States, or if you were solely abused abroad, then your spouse must have been an employee of the US government or a member of the US uniformed services (the military).*5
  • You must have lived with the abuser at some point ;*6 and
  • You are a person of “good moral character.”*7  Note: Even if you believe you have committed an act which may affect your ability to prove good moral character (for example, certain crimes), please talk to an immigration lawyer with experience in VAWA to see if there is an exception available for your situation.
* INA § 204(a)(1)(A)(iii), INA § 204 (a)(1)(B)(ii)
*1 INA § 204(a)(1)(A)(iii)(I)(aa), INA § 204(a)(1)(B)(ii)(I)(aa)
*2 USCIS website – Battered Spouse, Children & Parents
*3 INA § 204(a)(1)(A)(iii)(I)(bb), INA § 204(a)(1)(B)(ii)(I)(bb)
*4 8 CFR § 204.2(c)(1)(vi)
*5 INA § 204(a)(1)(A)(v), INA § 204(a)(1)(B)(iv)
*6 INA § 204(a)(1)(A)(iii)(II)(dd), INA § 204(a)(1)(B)(ii)(II)(dd)
*7 INA § 204(a)(1)(A)(iii)(II)(bb), INA § 204(a)(1)(B)(ii)(bb)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topWhat are some additional requirements to self-petition under VAWA as a child of a USC or LPR?

In addition to meeting the abusive relationship requirement explained in Who is eligible to self-petition?, you must meet all additional requirements listed below if you are self-petitioning as the child of an abusive US citizen (USC) or legal permanent resident (LPR):

  • You are a child abused by his/her USC or LPR parent:
    • You are the child (unmarried and under 21 years old) of a USC/LPR;
    • You are the child (unmarried and under 21 years old) of someone who was a USC/LPR but s/he lost his/her citizenship or residency within the past two years related to an incident of domestic violence;* or
    • You are between the ages of 21 and 25 and can show you qualified before you turned 21 and that the abuse was at least one central reason for not filing a self-petition before turning 21 years old.*1
  • Battery or extreme cruelty: Your USC/LPR parent must have battered you or subjected you to “extreme cruelty.”*2  Extreme cruelty is any form of power and control and includes, but is not limited to, the following:
    • being a victim of, or threatened with, an act of violence, forcible detention that results in physical or mental harm, psychological or sexual abuse, rape, molestation, incest, forced prostitution, and acts that may not appear violent but are part of a pattern of violence.*3  Note: You must have been abused in the United States, or if you were solely abused abroad, then your parent must have been an employee of the US government or a member of the US uniformed services (military) at the time; *4
  • You have lived with the abuser at some point;*5
  • If you are over the age of 14, you must be a person of “good moral character.”*6  Note: Even if you believe that you have committed an act which may affect your ability to prove good moral character (for example, certain crimes), please talk to an immigration lawyer with experience in VAWA to see if there is an exception available for your situation.
* INA § 204(a)(1)(A)(iv), INA § 204 (a)(1)(B)(iii)
*1 INA § 204(a)(1)(D)(v)
*2 INA § 204(a)(1)(A)(iii)(I)(bb), INA § 204(a)(1)(B)(ii)(I)(bb)
*3 8 CFR § 204.2(c)(1)(vi)
*4 INA § 204(a)(1)(A)(v), INA § 204(a)(1)(B)(iv)
*5 INA § 204(a)(1)(A)(iv), INA § 204 (a)(1)(B)(iii)
*6 8 CFR § 204.2(e)(2)(v), 8 CFR § 204.2(e)(1)(i)(F)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topWhat are some additional requirements to self-petition under VAWA as a parent who has been abused by his/her USC son or daughter?

In addition to meeting the abusive relationship requirement explained in Who is eligible to self-petition?, you must meet all additional requirements listed below if you are self-petitioning as the parent of a US citizen (USC) son or daughter (son/daughter must be over 21 years old) who has abused you:

  • The USC (not LPR) son or daughter (son/daughter must be over 21 years old) abused his/her parent: You must be:
    • the parent of an abusive USC son or daughter who is still alive or who died within the past two years; or
    • the parent of a USC son or daughter who lost his/her citizenship within the past two years related to an incident of domestic violence.*
  • Battery or extreme cruelty:* Your USC son or daughter (over 21 years old) must have battered you (physically abused you); or subjected you to "extreme cruelty."  Extreme cruelty is any form of power and control, and includes, but is not limited to, the following:
    • being a victim of, or threatened with, an act of violence, forcible detention that results on physical or mental harm, psychological or sexual abuse, rape, molestation, incest, forced prostitution, and acts that may not appear violent but are part of a pattern of violence.**
  • You must have lived with your abusive son or daughter at some point;* and
  • You must be a person of “good moral character.”Note: Even if you believe that you have committed an act which may affect your ability to prove good moral character (for example, certain crimes), please talk to an immigration lawyer with experience in VAWA to see if there is an exception available for your situation.
Note: This is the only category of self-petitioners where the abuser must be a USC – s/he cannot be an LPR.

* INA § 204(a)(1)(A)(vii)
** 8 CFR § 204.2(c)(1)(vi)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topWhat happens after my lawyer files my self-petition?

When a self-petition is accepted, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) sends a receipt to the address given on your petition (make sure that a safe address is used, such as your lawyer’s) stating the date when the application was received.  While reviewing the application, the USCIS may request additional evidence from you.  If the USCIS believes that you would meet all of the requirements if all of the information in your application were true, it will issue a “notice of prima facie case.”  This notice is a letter that may allow you to qualify for certain public benefits (please consult with an attorney familiar with public benefits for immigrants to determine what public benefits you may be eligible for), but it is not a final approval notice.  If the applicant establishes that s/he is eligible for self-petitioning under VAWA, the USCIS will grant the petition and issue an approval notice.  All approved self-petitioners are eligible for work authorization.*

* USCIS website – Instructions for Form I-360; and National Immigrant Justice Center website – VAWA Self-Petition Flow Chart

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topIf my self-petition is approved, when can I apply for legal permanent residence status (green card)?

If your self-petition is approved, the amount of time you will need to wait to apply for legal permanent residence (also known as “adjusting status”) depends on the family immigration system.  The family immigration system is a set of immigration laws that allow someone to obtain an immigration benefit through family relationships.

You can apply immediately for LPR status if you are the:

  • spouse of a US citizen (USC);
  • unmarried child (under 21 years old) of a USC; or
  • parent of a USC who is over 21 years old.*
When other self-petitioners (spouses and children of legal permanent residents (LPRs)) are able to apply will depend on something called the “family preference system.”*1   Because there is a limit in the number of people who can immigrate under certain categories each year, there is generally a waiting period until spouses and children of LPRs can apply for legal permanent residence.*2  How long the wait is will depend on a number of factors such as the nationality of the self-petitioner, his/her relationship with the LPR, and his/her “priority date.”*1  “Priority date” means the date when the self-petition was received by USCIS.*3  If the abuser filed a family petition on your behalf before you filed the self-petition, the priority date may be the date of that earlier filing.  Please check with an immigration lawyer for more information.

Additionally, if your self-petition was approved and you are applying for legal permanent residence status, you will have to demonstrate that you are not “inadmissible.”*4  There are many “inadmissibility grounds,” which are reasons why people cannot be “admitted” into the US (for example, criminal and fraud-related grounds, among others).*4   In other words, the inadmissibility grounds are reasons why someone may not be able to receive an immigration benefit, such as a green card.  An immigration attorney can tell you if you fall under one or more of the inadmissibility grounds, and also if there are exemptions or waivers available to you.

* INA § 201(b)(2)(A)(i)
*1 See generally US Department of State website – Visa Bulletin
*2 See generally INA § 203(a); and USCIS website – Green Card for a Family Member of a Permanent Resident
*3 USCIS website – Glossary
*4 INA § 212

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topIf my self-petition is approved, what can I get?

Depending on each case, once your self-petition is approved, you may be able to apply for some of the following things:

  • Deferred action: This means that Immigration will probably not try to remove (deport) you until you are able to apply for legal permanent residence.*
  • Work authorization: This means permission to work legally in the country – it is often called a “work permit.”**
  • Some public benefits:*** Please consult with an attorney who is familiar with public benefits for immigrants to determine what benefits you might qualify for.
  • Legal permanent residence status: For more information, see If my self-petition is approved, when can I apply for legal permanent residence status (green card)?
* See 8 CFR § 274a.12(c)(14)
** INA § 204(a)(1)(K)
*** See generally National Immigrant Justice Center website – VAWA Self-Petition Flow Chart

Did you find this information helpful?

Battered spouse or child waiver

back to topWhat is a battered spouse or child waiver? How does it work?

You may be able to apply for a “battered spouse or child waiver” if you have conditional legal permanent residence as a spouse (and in certain circumstances, as a child) of a USC or LPR, and the USC or LPR has abused you.*  Normally, when you have conditional permanent residence, you have to file a joint petition with your USC or LPR spouse to remove the "condition" during the 90 days immediately before the two-year anniversary of the date you got conditional resident status.**  However, if you meet the requirements for the battered spouse or child waiver as either the abused spouse or child (with conditional permanent residence) of a USC/LPR, you may ask that the condition be removed without the assistance of the abuser.*

To determine if you qualify for a VAWA self-petition or another form of immigration relief, you should consult an immigration lawyer with experience in VAWA.  Our Immigration/ International page lists national organizations working in the area of immigration law and our Finding a Lawyer page includes the contact information of legal organizations and lawyer referral services by state.

* INA § 216(c)(4)(C)
** INA § 216(c)(1)(A); INA § 216(d)(2)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topWhat is conditional permanent residence status? How do I know if I have it?

To understand the battered spouse or child waiver, it is necessary to understand what conditional permanent residence is.  If you get legal permanent residence status (a green card) through marriage to a USC or LPR, and the marriage is less than two years old when you obtain your residence, then you will obtain “conditional permanent residence.”  Also, If your children received conditional residence through a petition filed by your spouse, then they will obtain conditional permanent residence as well.*  The reason why the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) gives conditional permanent residence when a marriage is less than two years old and then requires a joint petition or waiver to remove the condition later on is to prevent marriage fraud.**

One way to determine if you have conditional legal permanent residence may be to look at the expiration date of your green card.  A conditional permanent resident will receive a green card that is valid for 2 years.***

* INA §§ 216(a)(1), 216(g)
** USCIS website – Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments of 1986
*** USCIS website – Conditional Permanent Residence

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topWho is eligible for a battered spouse or child waiver?

You may be eligible for a battered spouse or child waiver if you meet all of the requirements below:

  • you have conditional legal permanent residence as the spouse of a US citizen (USC) or legal permanent resident (LPR) because your marriage was less than two years old when you obtained your residence; or you have conditional legal permanent residence as a child because your parent’s USC spouse filed a petition for you and the marriage was less than two years old when you obtained your residence;
  • the marriage that is the basis for conditional residence was a good faith marriage; and
  • during the marriage, the spouse or child was battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by the USC or LPR abuser.*  "Extreme cruelty" is any form of power and control and includes, but is not limited, to the following: being the victim of or threatened with an act of violence, forcible detention that results in physical or mental harm, psychological or sexual abuse, rape, molestation, incest, and forced prostitution.**
* INA § 216(c)(4)(C)
** 8 CFR § 216.5(e)(3)(i)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topHow does the battered spouse or child waiver process work?

Once the battered spouse or child waiver is submitted, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may request additional evidence.  If the battered spouse or child waiver is approved, the condition in your conditional permanent residence will be removed.  Note: If you are a conditional permanent resident through a marriage to an abusive USC or LPR, and you do not file a joint petition or a waiver before the end of the second anniversary of the date when you got conditional permanent residence, you may lose your permanent residence status and could be removed (deported) from the US.*

* USCIS website – Instructions for Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topIf the battered spouse or child waiver is approved, what will my immigration status be?

If the battered spouse or child waiver is approved, the condition in your conditional permanent residence will be removed.*  That means you will have legal permanent residence and you will be able to remain in the US lawfully as long as you follow relevant immigration laws.** Removing the condition in your conditional permanent residence is required so that you do not lose your permanent residence status and become removable (deportable) from the US.***

* INA § 216(c)(3)(B)
** USCIS website – Green Card (Permanent Residence)
*** INA § 216(c)(2)

Did you find this information helpful?

VAWA cancellation of removal

back to topWhat is VAWA cancellation of removal?

If you are in removal proceedings (formerly known as deportation proceedings) before an immigration judge, and you are abused by your USC or LPR spouse or parent (or you have a child with the USC or LPR who is abused by him/her), it might be possible to apply for “VAWA cancellation of removal.”*  If an application for cancellation of removal is granted, the removal process can be ended and you can receive legal permanent residence.**  Because to be eligible to apply for VAWA cancellation of removal you have to be in removal proceedings, it is extremely important that you have an immigration attorney with experience in VAWA to advise you and represent you.  To determine if you qualify for VAWA cancellation of removal or another form of immigration relief, you should consult with an immigration lawyer with experience in VAWA.

To determine if you qualify for a VAWA self-petition or another form of immigration relief, you should consult an immigration lawyer with experience in VAWA.  Our Immigration/ International page lists national organizations working in the area of immigration law and our Finding a Lawyer page includes the contact information of legal organizations and lawyer referral services by state.

* INA § 240A(b)(2), 8 CFR § 1240.11(a)(1)
** INA § 240A(b)(2)(A)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topWho is eligible for VAWA cancellation of removal?

You may be eligible to apply for cancellation of removal if you fall under one of the following categories and meet all other requirements for cancellation of removal:

  • You have been battered or suffered extreme cruelty by a spouse who is/was a USC or LPR;
  • You have been battered or suffered extreme cruelty by a parent who is/was a USC or LPR;
  • You and a USC or LPR have a child together and the child has been battered or suffered extreme cruelty by the USC or LPR parent;* or
  • You have been battered or suffered extreme cruelty by a person who is a USC or LPR who you thought you had married, but the marriage is not legitimate because the USC or LPR committed bigamy (was already married at the time).**
* INA §§ 240A(b)(2)(A)(i)(I)&(II)
** INA § 240A(b)(2)(A)(i)(III)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topIf the VAWA cancellation of removal is approved, what can I get?

If your application for cancellation of removal is granted, the removal process can be ended and you can receive legal permanent residence.*

* INA § 240A(b)(2)(A)

Did you find this information helpful?
WomensLaw.org is grateful to Gail Pendleton, Esq., Co-Director of ASISTA, for her invaluable help in editing this information.

back to top