Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a Federal law that allows foreign nationals to leave their abusive relationship with a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident (LPR) without the fear of automatic deportation. Although the law’s name only mentions women, VAWA applicants may be any gender.

VAWA allows spouses, children, or parents who have been abused by their citizen/LPR spouse, parent, or child to petition for legal status independently. Successful petitioners are eligible to apply for a Green Card.


VAWA applicants must show:

  • Abuser subjected the applicant to severe physical, emotional or sexual abuse
  • Applicant’s relationship to the abuser as spouse, child or parent
  • Abuser’s legal status (U.S. citizen or LPR)
  • Applicant’s joint residence with the abuser
  • Spouse applicant must show a good-faith marriage to the abuser
  • Applicant currently lives in the United States or abuse occurred in the United States