Are You a Non-Citizen Who is Abused or Threatened by a Family Member?

Do You Want Security or Independence from Your Abusers?

Congress has reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Congress provided non-citizens who have been the victims of abuse by their U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident family member, the ability to independently file an immigration petition for themselves without the knowledge, consent, or participation of the abuser! Call us today to find out how we can help you file independently.


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Spouses and children of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, as well as parents of U.S. citizens who are 21 years of age or older, may file a self-petition for an immigrant classification with USCIS.

Who Can Apply

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Spouses, Parents and Children all have the right to file their own self-petition if you are, or were, the abused spouse, parent or child of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. You can also file as an abused spouse if your child has been abused by your spouse who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

How Do You Know if an Abused Person is Eligible for the VAWA Application?

You are eligible for a VAWA self-petition if you had a qualified relationship such as: The spouse, prospective spouse, or ex-spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and any of the following apply to you.

  • You are married to an abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.
  • Your marriage to the abuser ended legally by death (U.S. citizen spouses only) or divorce (for reasons related to abuse) within 2 years prior to filing your petition.
  • Your spouse lost or renounced U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status within 2 years prior to filing your petition due to a domestic violence incident.
  • You believed you were legally married to your abusive U.S. citizen spouse or lawful permanent resident, but the marriage was not legitimate solely because of your abusive spouse's bigamy.
  • More considerations available upon request.

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What happens if USCIS approves the self-petition?

They can obtain lawful permanent residence and obtain a permanent resident card (also known as a Green Card).

Can I Include My Child Over the Age of 21 in my application?

Yes, you can. As long as they are single and on their own, they have not started the VAWA application process.

Can I Apply Without My Spouse?

Yes, you can also include in your petition your unmarried children under the age of 21 if they have not yet submitted their own application.

What if you are a self-petitioner as the spouse of a U.S. citizen or an abusive lawful permanent resident?

You will need to prove that you were genuinely married and not for the purpose of evading immigration laws.What if the abusive family member died or lost U.S. citizenship? Can I be eligible for the VAWA petition? Yes, you are still eligible for the VAWA self-petition.

Can I Apply From Outside of the United States?

If you live outside the United States at the time of filing your self-petition, you must show that you meet one of the following requirements in addition to the eligibility requirements listed:

1. Your abusive family member who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident is a member of the U.S. armed forces.
2. You were a victim of abuse or extreme cruelty in the United States.
3. If you are applying as the spouse or child of an abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, you may include your child(ren) as derivative beneficiaries in the self-petition. Children must be under the age of 21 and unmarried when you apply to be included as derivative beneficiaries. However, if you are filing as a parent of a son or daughter who is an abusive U.S. citizen, you are not eligible to include derivative beneficiaries in your self-petition.
4. If their self-petition is approved, beneficiaries receive the same immigrant classification and priority date as the self-petitioner and are eligible to apply for permanent resident status when a visa is immediately available. VAWA self-petitioners may add an eligible child, including a child born after the petition was approved, when the self-petitioner applies for lawful permanent resident status.


Yes, USCIS may consider you for deferred action, depending on your case. Derivative beneficiaries seeking deferred action consideration must include a copy of the notice of approval of the self-petition and evidence of the qualified derivative relationship along with the petition to the Vermont Service Center.

Are battered immigrants eligible for Health and Human Services HHS-funded battered women's shelter services?

Yes, shelters for battered women receive funding from a variety of federal sources, including the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) of the Administration for Children and Families' Office of Community Services. These funds are administered through a designated state agency. The FVPSA does not include immigration restrictions, and HHS has not designated FVPSA funds as a federal public benefit program that requires verification of immigration status. Other important points to remember about FVPSA funding

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At Claxton Law PLLC, we make it our mission to defend and protect the rights of every one of our clients. Our firm’s main priority is to empower you to achieve the best possible outcome in your case!