What is the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)?

The violence against women act was initially enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1994. The Act aimed to address concerns of violence against women in several ways. It gave authority to the criminal justice system to investigate, prosecute and sentence offenders. It also offered immigration status to non-citizen victims who depended on the abusers.

If you are a victim of abuse from an offender with a lawful permanent residency (LPR) or a U.S. citizen (USC), you’re entitled to file for immigration status. This means that you can access services if you’re a non-citizen surviving domestic and dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault from a USC or LPR.

At Bennett Law Center, we understand that the road to getting your legal status after domestic violence can be frustrating. The good news is that you don’t have to walk that path alone because our Florida immigration attorneys are passionate about safeguarding your rights while you seek justice.

How Do You Acquire Immigration Status Under VAWA?

Suppose you’re a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence from a USC or LPR. In that case, you should file for legal status by submitting an I-360 form and providing evidence to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once your application is approved, you can apply to be a permanent resident (green card holder) by submitting the I-485 form.

If you’re a spouse or child of a lawful permanent resident, you have to file the I-360 and wait for the approval. However, if you are a spouse to a U.S. citizen, you can concurrently submit the I-360 and the I-485 forms since the USCIS treats you as an immediate relative.

The USCIS may fail to approve your request due to a lack of evidence. Here is what you need to submit:

  • A marriage certificate
  • Proof of abuse like police reports, medical reports, counseling records, or a criminal report of the offender.
  • Evidence that you lived with the abuser. Some of the documents you can produce include tax returns, bills, and family photos.
  • Evidence that you have no criminal records. You can include evidence of involvement in community work.

If the offender is deceased, you can apply for the petition within two years of their death. If you’re divorced, you have two years to self-petition. If the abuser is not a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident, you might have to seek help from the police, social service entities, or a reputable immigration attorney like Bridgette Bennett of Bennett Law Center.

The VAWA Hotline

The VAWA unit hotline allows you to reach out to the USCIS for assistance with your self-petition. If you want to inquire about the VAWA self-petition, you can email HotlineFollowUpI360.vsc@uscis.dhs.gov. For assistance with your U visa and T visa, email HotlineFollowUpI918I914.vsc@uscis.dhs.gov. If you have a query about your I-751(domestic violence) waiver, reach out via HotlinefollowupI751ef.vsc@uscis.dhs.gov. You can also dial the VAWA hotline number: (802-527-4888) for all your queries.

Need the Help of an Immigration Attorney in Florida? We Can Help

If you are seeking help with your VAWA self-petition, worry no more because, at Bennett Law Center, our experienced attorneys are ready to assist you. Please contact us online or call us directly at 352-557-8989 to schedule a consultation.

352-557-8989