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VAWA allows victims of abuse, who are close relatives of US citizens or Green Card holders, to obtain legal status without the involvement or control of the abuser through a "VAWA self-petition"

*abused men and women can file a VAWA petition if they can prove they qualify.


If you are the spouse, child, or parent of a US citizen or spouse/child of a Green Card holder, the relative must petition the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on your behalf for you to obtain legal status.


This relative controls the process until you obtain your own legal permanent residence (" Green Card ").

VAWA changed this by allowing victims of abuse to obtain legal status without the involvement or control of the abuser through a "VAWA self-petition".

By itself, filing a petition will prevent you from working legally until the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves your VAWA petition and issues an Employment Permit - Work Authorization )


If the abuser is your spouse, US citizen, child, or parent, you may be able to get a work permit faster than if the abuser was a Green Card holder.

You should discuss obtaining a work permit with your lawyer, because once the application is approved, additional documents may be required, depending on your situation.


Once your petition has been approved, you will be able to receive:

  • Work permit ( Employment Work Authorization ), which allows you to work legally in the country.

  • Some public benefits. Consult with an attorney who is familiar with government immigrant benefits to determine what benefits you can claim. You can also visit the NILC website for government benefits available to some immigrants.

  • Green Card (Lawful Permanent Residence)

Other eligibility requirements that you will need to prove to be eligible for a waiver (spouse) or child:


  • The "good faith" of your marriage; is necessary to prove that the marriage was not concluded for the purpose of legalization.

  • During the marriage, you or your child were subjected to battery or extreme cruelty by the abusive US citizen or lawful permanent resident.

  • “Ultimate cruelty” is any form of power and control that includes, but is not limited to, being the victim of or being threatened with violence, forced detention that results in physical or mental harm, psychological or sexual abuse, rape, molestation, incest, and coercion to prostitution.


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