For many immigrant victims of domestic violence, battery, and extreme cruelty, the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident family members who would sponsor their applications threaten to withhold legal immigration sponsorship as a tool of abuse. Because of this, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) created a provision for battered immigrants to petition themselves.
VAWA allows battered immigrants to self-petition for legal status in the United States without relying on abusive U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident spouses, parents or children to sponsor their Adjustment of Status applications. The VAWA self-petition requires a showing that the U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident relative has subjected you or your child to physical abuse or extreme mental cruelty. Additionally, it is important to note that despite the name of the Act, men who have been subjected to abuse or extreme mental cruelty are also permitted to self-petition under VAWA.
In addition to the self-petition, there are other forms of relief available to battered immigrants, including certain types of relief in Removal Proceedings and a waiver of the joint filing requirement for removal of conditions on residency.
If you or your child is a battered immigrant, please first seek the aid of law enforcement and a local shelter.