Immigration Lawyer, Woburn

Violence against women act ("VAWA")

The battered spouse, child, or parent of an abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident may self-petition for an immigrant visa under the Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”) provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.


The VAWA provisions allow victims to seek safety and independence from their abuser, without notifying the abuser of the filing.


Eligibility Requirements for a Spouse


  • Victim has/had a qualifying spousal relationship with the U.S. citizen or permanent resident;

  • Victim suffered battery/extreme cruelty by U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse;

  • Victim entered into the marriage in good faith, not solely for immigration benefits;

  • Victim resided with the U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse; and

  • Victim is a person of good moral character.


Evidence of Abuse


Evidence of abuse may include, but is not limited to:


  • Reports and affidavits from police, judges and other court officials, medical personnel, school officials, clergy, social workers, and other social service agency personnel;

  • Copies or orders of protection against the abuser or other related legal documents;

  • Evidence that the abused victim sought refuge in a battered women’s shelter; and/or

  • Photographs of the visibly injured self-petitioner supported by affidavits.


Filing Process


Applicants must submit Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, along with all supporting documentation to the Vermont Service Center (“VSC”). Self-petitioning abused spouses of U.S. citizens or permanent residents are exempt from paying the $435 filing fee.


Spouses living abroad may file a VAWA petition if their abuser is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and some of the abuse took place in the United States.


Green Card and Naturalization


An Individual with an approved VAWA petition, is eligible to apply to work authorization in the United States and may be eligible for a green card.


In general, the USCIS will only approve a green card application if the applicant is not considered inadmissible based on one of the grounds outlined in INA 212(a). All grounds of inadmissibility apply to VAWA self-petitioners except public charge and entry without inspection.


An individual who obtains a green card based on their status as the battered spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident may apply for citizenship within three (3) years.


Speak with an Immigration Attorney About VAWA Today.

If you have questions about the Violence Against Women Act ("VAWA"), call local immigration attorney, Dayna Lally, at (617) 870-1000 or by email to