Francis Law Center
Francis Law Center
When Your Success Depends On Effective Immigration Services
When Your Success Depends On Effective Immigration Services


Get the Assistance You Need for Your Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Petition

With approximately 19 million immigrant women and girls in the United States, nearly half of the foreign-born population is female. Unfortunately, many of these immigrant women, particularly those who are unauthorized, are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Immigrant women are more likely to experience exploitation while entering the country, while working, and even within their homes. For these and other reasons, federal law provides numerous forms of protection for immigrant women.

In the last two decades, Congress has made numerous changes to U.S. immigration laws to offer protections for immigrant victims of domestic violence and crime. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 1994 included provisions to allow immigrant victims of domestic violence to obtain immigration relief independent of their abusive spouse or parent through a process called “self-petitioning.” The Battered Immigrant Women Protection Act of 2000 (VAWA 2000) created new forms of immigration relief for immigrant victims of violent crime (“U” visas) and victims of sexual assault or trafficking (“T” visas). Finally, the Violence Against Women Act of 2005 expanded these protections and included some victims of elder abuse.

What Is the Battered Spouse Waiver?

In order to prevent marriage fraud, federal immigration law requires applicants for marriage-based green cards to receive “conditional” permanent resident status for two years before being granted full lawful permanent resident status. As a result, immigrant victims of domestic violence may feel compelled to remain in an abusive relationship for up to two years in order to obtain a green card. The Immigration Reform Act of 1990 created the “battered spouse waiver,” which allows victims of domestic violence to file an application to remove the conditional status without the assistance of her abusive spouse and without having to stay in the abusive relationship for two years by providing proof of battering or extreme cruelty and the validity of the marriage.

What Is A VAWA “self-petition?”

Under VAWA, immigrant victims of domestic violence, child abuse, or elder abuse may “self-petition” for lawful permanent resident status without the cooperation of an abusive spouse, parent, or adult child. It allows the victim to confidentially file the self-petition and attain lawful permanent resident status without separating from the abuser, thereby allowing the victim to leave the abuser after lawful permanent resident status has been obtained.

An approved VAWA self-petition provides the applicant with work authorization, deferred action, and an approved immigrant petition which allows her to apply for lawful permanent residency. When the individual applies for lawful permanent resident status, she is subject to the family preference system and any backlogs that may exist. Thus, spouses and children of U.S. citizens may apply immediately and receive a green card as an immediate relative. By contrast, spouses and children of lawful permanent resident abusers are placed into the family preference system along with all other petitions for spouses and children of lawful permanent residents and are subject to backlogs.

There is no limit to the number of VAWA self-petitions that may be filed in any given year.

What Can We Do for You?

Based out of Schaumburg, IL, with additional offices in Chicago, IL, and Madison, WI, our firm is committed to serving the immigration needs of clients throughout the world. Our clients include people coming to the United States from India, Mexico, China, Serbia, the Philippines, United Kingdom, Nigeria, Brazil, and around the world.

Francis Law Center is committed to practicing immigration law; in fact, it is the only kind of law we practice. Attorney Jae Francis Lee brings experience as a professional working as a Professor of U.S. History at the University of Wisconsin and holds a Ph.D. from New York University. He understands the importance of in-depth research and meticulous documentation required for a successful marriage-based green card case. Your mind will rest easier knowing that we are working on your behalf for your successful spousal green card case.

Schedule an Initial Consultation: Call us at . You can also reach us online. We look forward to hearing from you.