VAWA, the Violence Against Women Act,  provides avenues for certain immigrant battered spouses, children, and parents of US citizens, and lawful permanent residents (LPRs), to leave their abusive family members without jeopardizing their immigration status.

In 2013, The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act was signed expanding protection measures to include gays, lesbians, transgender individuals, Native Americans, and immigrants.

The law established the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) to work to combat and reduce violence against women in a broad range of areas including college campuses and low-income communities. Since its beginning, VAWA’s focus has grown to include domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.

Immigrant victims who file for VAWA-related relief become eligible for a variety of federal and state public benefits. Under the law, battered non-citizens who are married to or recently divorced from US citizens or LPRs can self-petition (without the help or knowledge of their abusive spouse) to obtain a green card, remove the conditions on their 2-year Conditional Permanent Residence cards or apply for cancellation of removal. For more information, click on the appropriate link below:


Immigrants who have been abused by their U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse may self-petition for a green card through VAWA. Former spouses of U.S. citizens and permanent residents can also self-petition if the marriage terminated within the last two years. The marriage must have been in good faith. Unmarried children under the age of 21 may be included in the green card application.