How the VAWA Visa Program Works


Suppose you are a non-citizen and were abused by a relative who is a US citizen or lawful permanent resident. In that case, you gain the right to self-petition for immigrant classification. 

Under the VAWA visa program, you do not need the abuser to sponsor you, and you do not need their consent. The abuser doesn’t even have to know you’re pursuing citizenship on your own.

What are the eligibility requirements for the VAWA visa program?

You must meet the following requirements.

  • You must be physically present in the United States at the time you file your paperwork.
  • You have followed immigration law.
  • You must be otherwise eligible to receive an immigrant visa, which means you must not be inadmissible under any other grounds.

Certain grounds for inadmissibility do not impact VAWA visa petitioners. For example, the Public Charge (INA 212(a)(4)) does not apply to a VAWA petitioner.

Almost all forms of recognized physical and mental abuse do qualify.

Do you have to prove the abuse?

Yes. You can do this by submitting police reports, medical records, text message records, and affidavits from yourself, court officials, psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors, nurses, school officials, social workers, or clergy members. 

Working with an attorney can be very helpful here. Often, we need to seek out expert witness testimony to prove the abuse, which we can help you find. 

You also need evidence of your relationship with the abuser. If the abuser was your spouse, you’ll need additional evidence that shows you entered the marriage in good faith.

Many VAWA petitions fall apart because the victim does not realize they need certain documentation or understand all the forms of abuse that might qualify. Working with an attorney can help you address these issues.

How do you begin the process?

You must fill out Form I-485, the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, as well as Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant.

Get Help Today

Suffering through abuse is frightening and confusing. Dealing with the United States government on any immigration matter is also frightening and confusing. Get all the help you can if you’re going to pursue this type of visa.

If you or someone you care about is seeking a VAWA visa, contact Hykel Law to get the help you need today.

See also:

Understanding U-Visas

What is the Difference Between an RFE and a NOID?

Immigration for Victims of Forced Marriage

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