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Battered Spouse (VAWA)

VAWA Program

“My husband threatens me with deportation, refuses to sign my immigration documents” – usually with these words begins a visit to the immigration lawyer of many foreign women, and sometimes even foreign husbands who collided with violence and humiliation from the spouse of a US citizen, or the spouse who have the Green Card.

Get married with a foreigner American spouses and legal residents of the US quite often abusing or dependent position of the foreign spouse.

You can’t get a Green Card without signatures from spouse of a US citizen, or the spouse who have the Green Card. However, those who don’t know the immigration laws of America think so.

The VAWA — act allows women, men and kids affected by domestic violence to seek legal permanent residence in the US without the involvement of their abusers.

Prior to the adoption of this law, citizens or permanent residents of the US who abuse their family members had the opportunity not to allow the spouse or kid to report it to the authorities, threatening to detain the promised petition for permanent residence or frightening deportation in the event of an attempt to leave the tormentor.

Currently, to obtain a legal permanent residence, the applicants are not required to prove that they will experience “extreme difficulties” in the event of deportation.

Moreover, victims of domestic violence can now be contacted for permanent residence from abroad, outside the US, if they can demonstrate that the violence took place in the US.

Requirements for compliance with the VAWA Act

According to the VAWA Act, spouses affected by violence may change their status under the following circumstances:

  • the existence of a link between the fact of violence or ill-treatment of a citizen or permanent resident of the US with a spouse and the legal dissolution of their marriage during the last two years;
  • the spouse has lost his / her immigration status in the last two years due to domestic violence;
  • spouse -invict of violence (a US citizen) has died in the last two years;
  • the culprit of the violence was bigamist.

In order to meet the requirements, it is not necessary to prove that a US citizen used violence or that the spouse was physically injured.

Typical examples related to domestic violence and attempts to subordinate a foreign spouse to one’s will:

  1. Use of threats and enforcement:
    • threatening to battered spouse or hurt;
    • blackmail with homicide and threats put the blame on this on a foreign spouse;
    • coercion to sexual acts;
    • incline to illegal actions.
  2. Intimidation:
    • keep the spouse in fear, using appropriate views, unauthorized actions, gestures;
    • to break, to spoil things belonging to the spouse-foreigner;
    • cruel treatment of pets which spouse love;
    • demonstrate weapons in order to intimidate a foreign spouse.
  3. Economic binding:
    • to prevent attempts to get a job or go to work;
    • put in such conditions, when the spouse is forced to ask for money;
    • set strict financial constraints;
    • to deprive the spouse of access to information about the family budget, the ability to dispose of it, or make any financial decisions.
  4. Emotional pressure:
    • to humiliate human dignity;
    • to give different offended names, bullying;
    • to make spouse feel guilty.
  5. Use the privileged position:
    • treat the spouse as a servant;
    • to make all-important decisions without the participation of the spouse;
    • behave like a boss of the situation.
  6. Insulation from society:
    • to exercise control over those with whom the spouse can meet, with whom to communicate, what to read, where to go, what to buy;
    • to limit the circle of communication and movement;
    • justify your behavior with a feeling of jealousy.
  7. Manipulation by using kids:
    • to force the spouse to feel guilty in front of kids;
    • use kids for pressure on spouse.
  8. Minimization, denial, judgment:
    • quarrel and scold, not caring about the feelings of the spouse;
    • to refuse being response for brutal behavior, considering the guilty spouse in his behavior.

Petition for American Widow or Special Immigrant (VAWA Petition)

In this case it is necessary to file an application on Form I-360, together with the relevant documents and evidence.

If you are outside the US, you can apply for the immigration status of a victim of domestic violence only in one of the cases listed below:

  • the person who shows violence against family members is an employee of the US government organization;
  • the person who ill-treats members of his family, serves in the armed forces of the US or other similar services
  • you can prove that being in the US, were subjected to severe beatings and violence.

Once you receive the approval of the I-360 VAWA petition you can apply for confirmation of your eligibility for employment in the US. To do this, you need to apply for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization and after its approval to obtain a work permit in the US – Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

Even if you are in the US illegally, but you have received the approval of the I-360 immigration form and you are subject to deferred measures legislation, you also have the right to work in the USA and can apply a package of relevant documents for obtaining the Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

Your kids which included in the I-360 application, also have the right to obtain a work permit, provided that your I-360 application is approved.

When you petition for Form I-360 provided that you are a victim of spouse violent or your kid is victim and satisfy all the necessary criteria for compliance with the special status of the victim of domestic violence, you will receive a special notice – Prima Facie Determination Notice.

This document is valid for 150 days and gives you the right to receive benefits for victims of domestic violence.

After receiving the approval of the application I-360 you and your kids, mentioned in I-360 form, can apply for a battered spouse green card for victims of domestic violence in accordance with the received special immigration status.

Unfortunately, the successful completion of the first stage and the approval of the I-360 petition does not automatically guarantee the receipt of your US green card. To get a Green Card, you need to fulfill all the necessary conditions for the applicant and provide the required package of documents for permanent resident status.

Now you know the details Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and can share your thoughts with us. Maybe you have additional questions? Ask them in the comments below and tell us what you want to know about the theme.

We hope that such cruel things never come in your live, but if it’s already happening with you or your family, given all of the above, we recommend you to give maximum attention to even small details when applying for a visa of the appropriate category, to exclude in the future unnecessary financial costs!

3.9/5 12 ratings


    • Hello, Emma!
      If you get VAWA status — your ex-spouse doesn’t have any right to get charges from your status.

  1. Hi. is it violence also that u see a lot of converstion your husband with other women and they talking about sex and there are some also he send money to the women pls. enlighten my mind thank you

    • Hi!
      Unfortunately, I have no rights to advise you something. You need to ask a legal advice from a lawyer.

  2. I am in a domestic violence shelter seeking info. On the vawa I have no legal status in this country have been here 30 yrs. Since I was 8 yrs. Old I’m 41 and been married 14 years to a us citizen what rights do I have I have a 10 year old child and just need a work permit to be able to take care of us. A social something what kind of assistance is available for people like me. I have a high school diploma.


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