Special Immigration: Battered Spouse, Children & Parents

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) provides relieve for battered spouses, children or parents. If you fit this criteria, you may file an immigrant Visa petition under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

The Violence Against Women Act allows any person who fits certain criteria to file a petition for a green card without their abuser’s consent or knowledge. The provisions apply equally to men and women and allow the victims to seek safety and independence from their abuser.

Those Eligible to File:

  • Spouse of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Parent of a child who has been abused by their U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse.
  • Child who has been abused by their U.S. Citizen or permanent resident parent.

Eligibility Requirements for a Spouse:

You may file for yourself if you are, or were, the abused spouse of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. You may also include on your petition your unmarried children who are under 21, if they have not filed for themselves.

To qualify:

  • you should be married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident abuser or were married in the past. The marriage to the abuser must have been terminated by death or a divorce (related to the abuse) within the two years prior to filing; or
  • your spouse lost or renounced citizenship or permanent resident status within the two years prior to filing due to an incident of domestic violence, or
  • you believed that you were legally married to your abusive U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse but the marriage was not legitimate solely because of the bigamy of your abusive spouse; and
  • you entered into the marriage in good faith, not solely for immigration benefits, and you have resided with your spouse.

You may be entitled to relief if you have been abused by your spouse in the United States; if you have been abused by your spouse abroad while your spouse was employed by the U.S. government or a member of the U.S. uniformed services; or you are the parent of a child who has been subjected to abuse by your U.S. citizen or permanent spouse.

Eligibility Requirements for a Parent:

You may file for yourself if you are the parent of a child who has been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse. You may include on your petition your children, including those who have not been abused, if they have not filed for themselves. You may also file if you are the parent of a U.S. citizen, and you have been abused by your U.S. citizen child.

To qualify:

  • you should be the parent of a U.S. citizen or were the parent of a U.S. citizen who lost or renounced citizenship status related to an incident of domestic violence or died within two years prior to filing; or
  • you have been abused by your U.S. citizen child; and
  • you have resided with the abusive son or daughter; and you are a person of good moral character.

Eligibility Requirements for a Child:

You may file for yourself if you are an abused child. You should be under twenty-one, unmarried and have been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent. Your children may also be included on your petition. If you can demonstrate that the abuse was the main reason for the delay in filing, you may file for yourself as a child after the age of twenty-one but before twenty-five.

To qualify:

  • you should be the child of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident abuser or were the child of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident abuser who lost citizenship or lawful permanent resident status due to an incident of domestic violence; or
  • you have been abused in the United States by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent or have been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent abroad while your parent was employed by the U.S. government or a member of the U.S. uniformed services; and
  • you have resided with the abusive parent, have evidence to prove your relationship to your parent; and must provide evidence of good moral character if you are over the age of 14.

Filing Process:

In order to obtain relief you must complete the Form 1-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant. You must file the form, and all supporting documentation with the Vermont Service Center (VSC). If you meet all filing requirements, you will receive a notice (Prima Facie Determination Notice). This notice is valid for 150 days. You may also present this notice to government agencies that provide certain public benefits to certain victims of domestic violence. Although you will not have legal immigration status, we may we may place you in deferred action, which allows you to remain in the United States

Working in the United States:

If you have been approved, or are in deferred action, you are eligible to apply to work in the United States. However, you must file Form 1-765 with the Vermont Service Center. Your children, listed on your I-360, may also apply for work authorization.

Permanent Residence (Green Card):

If you have an approved Form I-360, you and your children may be eligible to file for a green card.

Help is also available from the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TDD). The hotline has information about shelters, mental heath care, legal advice and other types of assistance, including information about filing for immigration status.

This website has been developed to be a useful and informative tool for clients and prospective clients. It is possible that information contained herein may change from time to time and while accurate at the date of publication, may not be accurate as at the time you access this website. We provide no warranty or take any responsibility (or liability) for any loss or damage (either direct or consequential) that may be suffered due to reliance on the information published on this website.