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What is the VAWA Battered Spouse Waiver?

by: Justin Burton

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was passed by the United States Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994. One section of this legislation, which provides many different protections for domestic violence victims, amended a part of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to provide immigration relief for victims of spousal abuse. Specifically, certain green card holders are able to self-petition for a VAWA battered spouse waiver. Here, our experienced Chicago VAWA attorneys explain the basics about this process.

Self-Petitioning: Explained

If a person has obtained a green card through their marriage to an American legal resident, that individual will first receive two-year conditional status before they are able to receive permanent legal status. Near the end of that two-year period, the immigrant must file a form with their spouse to get the conditions on their green card removed. In cases of domestic abuse, that requirement can be waived. An immigrant who has been the victim of domestic violence is eligible to “self-petition”, meaning their abusive spouse will no longer be required to be part of the immigration process. Further, self-petitioning can be done confidentially, without any notification being sent to the abuser.

Eligibility Requirements

In order to qualify for to self-petition under the VAWA battered spouse waiver, an applicant must meet the following three basic legal requirements:

  1. They must be in a good faith marriage;
  2. They must have been the victim of assault or another form of extreme cruelty by their partner; and
  3. The applicant must meet all other requirements necessary for permanent legal status.

Many domestic abuse victims worry that they will not be able to prove that abuse has actually occurred. If you are worried about this, please be sure to get a lawyer by your side as soon possible. Your attorney will be able to protect you and help you properly prepare your application so that you can be safe and get immigration relief.

Men Qualify Under VAWA Too

Disproportionately, women are the victims of domestic abuse. That being said, many men also suffer from partner violence. Though the name may suggest otherwise, the Violence Against Women Act is a gender neutral law. Any person of any gender identity can petition for immigration relief under VAWA if the legal criteria are met.

Contact Our Illinois Immigration Attorneys Today

At Kriezelman Burton & Associates, LLC, our compassionate immigration lawyers have extensive experience handling cases involving humanitarian visas, such as the VAWA battered spouse waivers. To talk to one of our immigration lawyers today, please call us at (312) 332-2550 or set up an appointment using our short online contact form. We are ready to help

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