VAWA

The US Congress passed the VAWA Act in September 1994, which was signed by then US President Clinton. 

The act is aimed at protecting those foreigners who suffer serious violence or abuse in the United States, as well as the people who are subjected to domestic violence (including domestic violence in marriage, and violent behaviors between dating couples), sexual violence, sexual harassment, stalking. When the bill was first introduced, it can be seen from the name that only women are protected. With the continuous development of the American society and the promotion of the LGBTQ people’s equal rights movement, the American society advocates non-sexual discrimination. Therefore, although the name of the act includes “women”, it is also applicable to male victims.

When applying for immigration status under the VAWA Act, the applicant should be a victim of serious violence or abuse in the United States, and the perpetrator shall be a U.S. citizen or a green card holder. The victim and the perpetrator live together and the victim has met the relevant requirements for the immigration category of citizens’ immediate family members (parents, children or spouses) or green card relatives. The perpetrator takes advantage of the victim’s weakness of being unable to obtain a legal green card or citizenship, controls the victim and exerts violence against the victim. Under such a background, the victim wants to get rid of the violence or abuse of the perpetrator, terminate the relationship with the perpetrator and at the same time want to obtain the legal qualification to live in the United States, the victim can apply for a green card through the VAWA Act.

The applicant shall provide relevant materials to prove that the violence and abuse he or she suffered during the period of living with the perpetrator, and that his or her relationship with the perpetrator meets the relevant immigration requirements. For example, a spouse should prove that he or she has domestic violence with another person in a legal marriage relationship. Parents should prove that he or she has suffered abuse or violence from a child who has reached the age of 21. Children can prove that he or she has suffered violence from his or her parents or other cohabiting relatives (parents of young children can also apply to prove that their child has suffered violence from other cohabiting relatives).

The applicant shall submit Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Window (er), or Special Immigration to the USCIS as required. If the applicant needs to adjust his/her status to obtain a green card, he/she can submit Form I-485 alongside with the application (if he/she is a relative of a green card holder, the applicant still needs to wait for the expiration of the scheduled period to submit an I-485 green card application).

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