If you are a U.S. immigrant who does not yet have citizenship status, a close family member may be helping you to stay in the country. Unfortunately, if that family member treats you with abuse or violence, you may also feel that you cannot report the abuse because it would mean deportation.
In the U.S., the Violence Against Women Act offers important protections for immigrants who have been a victim of criminal behavior.
What is VAWA?
VAWA may protect you from deportation if you are the current or former spouse, parent or child of a U.S. citizen or green card holder and that person has treated you with cruelty or physical abuse. Under VAWA, you may be able to apply for your own green card without needing the help of your abusive family member.
Who is eligible for VAWA protections?
You may apply for VAWA protections whether you are a woman or a man in an abusive family relationship. To be eligible, you may have to show that:
- You currently live or used to live in the same home as your spouse, ex-spouse, parent or child
- You have experienced physical harm, threats or extreme cruelty
- You have acted with good moral character while living in the U.S.
How else may VAWA help you?
In addition to eventually gaining green card status, under VAWA you may be able to benefit from other types of protections. This may include the ability to continue working and living in the U.S. while your case is pending as well as receiving certain types of government assistance.