The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has well-established roots in the country. Despite that, every time it goes up for review, it runs into hurdles. This is because VAWA seeks to continue expanding its resources and capabilities.
VAWA is currently awaiting renewal. But it is important to understand what help it can give if the new changes get approved by the current government.
Self-petitioning under VAWA
The American Immigration Council discusses how VAWA can help support immigrant victims of domestic abuse. First, immigrants can file for legal permanent residency through VAWA self petition. Self petitioning means you can submit your application without the approval of the abusive U.S. citizen you have ties with. This can include spouses, parents, children or other extended members of your family.
There is no limit on how many times you can submit a self petition under VAWA in one year. You can self-petition after a divorce, too. But you must file the petition within 2 years of your divorce. You must also prove ties between the domestic violence you faced and your divorce.
The family preference system
Be aware of the fact that by taking this route, you are subject to the family preference system and its related backlogs. For example, a child or spouse of a U.S. citizen can apply right away for a green card. But a child or spouse of LPR abusers end up with all petitions for children and spouses of legal permanent residents. You may need to prepare yourself for a lengthy wait.
Though the option is currently not available due to VAWA’s status, VAWA seeks to continue these protections in the future. They also seek to extend these protections, along with resources they can use to meet your needs.