VAWA, Violence and Abuse

What is the Violence Against Women Act?

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has protected thousands of foreign-born abuse survivors who are family members of legal permanent residents and U.S. citizens. Other immigration laws protect foreigners from crimes by non-residents and non-citizens.

Under this series of laws, spouses, children or parents of abusers can get the Green Card and lose the abuse.  Even an ex-spouse can get a Green Card under VAWA if the divorce occurred fewer than two years before the foreigner files the petition. As with any family case, two separate applications must be filed: the petition Form I-360) and the one for residency. 

Although VAWA has the word “women” in the title, Blandon Law regularly helps men win these cases. Importantly, an abuse survivor does not have to file a police report against the abuser or go to a hospital. We can get an approval to obtain a Green Card without such documents.

Is there a difference between violence and abuse?

Not only does the Violence Against Women Act apply also to men, but also it does not require violence. We have obtained Green Cards with NO police report, NO photographs of bruises, NO hospital records, and NO medical reports. No one needs to wait. As an analogy, if the dog constantly puts you in fear with its growling, do not stay and wait for the dog to bite. 

VAWA requires an abuse survivor – meaning one person has lived with the use of power and control by a citizen or a resident family member.  This includes physical assaults of any kind (including a shake or push), coercion, threats, intimidation, emotional abuse, isolation, denying the abuse, and economic abuse.  

If a married woman does not consent, and her legal permanent resident husband proceeds with sexual relations (even without violence), she is an abuse survivor.  She can leave him and still get a Green Card. 

If a man has been waiting years to get a Green Card through marriage, and his U.S. citizen spouse tells him he must pay money or the spouse will withdraw the immigration case, he is an abuse survivor. He can divorce and still get a Green Card.

No one should take any action without first having a consultation with Blandon Law.  For our VAWA clients, however, divorce and separation are possible.

Where Did the Abuse Happen?

The abuser and the survivor must have shared a house during the relationship.  If the abuse happened before the marriage, while a couple was living together, but they did not share a residence after their wedding, the survivor cannot get a Green Card.

Similarly, if the abuse happened before the abuser became a legal permanent resident, VAWA may not apply.  To answer all your questions, call the office and schedule a consultation. 

The violence and abuse must have happened in the United States, for most VAWA cases.  

What if the Abuse Happened Outside the US?

Still, Blandon Law proudly represents abuse survivors through asylum if they fled their country to escape domestic violence.  For asylum, the mistreatment must have been severe. The laws are different and protect those who suffered greatly or can demonstrate they will suffer greatly if returned to their country. This includes demonstrating that the abuse survivor cannot hide anywhere in their home country.

Abused spouses and children (but not parents) living abroad can also get a Green Card through VAWA if some of the abuse took place in the United States. If the abuser is a member of the U.S. military or government employee, and the abuse survivor is a spouse or child, they can also get a Green Card.