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You may have heard of self-petitioning under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) as a potential path towards lawful permanent residency. But did you know that you don’t have to be a woman to petition for yourself under this act? Did you know that you also do not have to have endured physical beatings? That’s right — VAWA doesn’t just protect battered women. It protects a much broader range of people. Read on to learn more about who is eligible to self-petition under VAWA.

Who is eligible to petition?

According to USCIS, no matter your age or gender, you can petition for yourself under VAWA if you “were the victim of battery or extreme cruelty” at the hands of any of the following people:

  • Your spouse or ex-spouse if they are a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
  • Your parent if they are a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. 
  • Your son or daughter if he or she is a U.S. citizen

Will my abuser find out that I petitioned under VAWA?

No. There are special securities and confidentiality protections intended to keep your spouse or other family member in question from finding out. It is understood that this information could cause more or worsened abuse and it is therefore treated sensitively. Even if you are still living with your abuser for fear of retaliation, you can still qualify to petition under VAWA. All immigration documents will be sent to your attorney and never to your home. 

How do I file an application for a green card (lawful permanent residency) under VAWA?

To file for a green card under VAWA you might be able to submit the I-485 Adjustment of Status application at the same time as the I-360 petition, however, there can be circumstances where you need to first wait for the VAWA approval before you are eligible to apply for the green card. Errors in immigration applications — even seemingly minor errors — can result in the denial of your petition. It is absolutely essential to complete this process properly. You should partner with an experienced immigration attorney to ensure that you do not make any costly errors.

Who can help me?

The Heitz Immigration Law team is here to help with this and many other immigration issues. Our team is dedicated to opening the door to opportunity for you. We can review your history and help you determine whether or not you are eligible for a green card under the Violence Against Women Act. To get started, give us a call at (561) 290-0101. We can’t wait to hear from you and get started on your case!

Nadine Heitz

Nadine Heitz is an immigration attorney in Lake Worth, Florida where she helps her clients obtain legal status in the United States. Book your consultation with her to find out how to solve your immigration issues and achieve your desired goals.