Survivors of Domestic Violence - Information on the The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) from Gonzalez Law Offices, RI

Survivors of Domestic Violence

The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) is a program created by Congress to help individuals who are or have been battered or abused by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse.  These individuals are permitted to file a petition for themselves and if the petition is granted, the self-petitioning individual and their qualifying children are eligible to apply for permanent residence.

When the VAWA was enacted the attorneys at Gonzalez Law Offices were among the first in the country to successfully represent women, men and children, who had been subjected to actual or threatened violence or emotional cruelty by a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or parent. VAWA provides an opportunity for certain abused persons to become a permanent resident (“green card” holder) without the sponsorship of their citizen or resident spouse or parent.  VAWA applications require careful and thorough preparation under the guidance of experienced attorneys. At Gonzalez Law Offices, we have developed and utilized documentary resources and a network of expert witnesses that will support and strengthen your case. We will assist you in reviewing your case, investigating your eligibility, obtaining the necessary documentation, assembling your application, preparing you for your interview and representing you at your interview. Our expertise can make the difference between winning and losing.

To apply one must:

  • You must complete Form I-360 (Petition for Amerasian, Widow(e), or Special Immigrant) and submit with evidence that establishes that:
    1. You were residing with the alleged abuser during your relationship;
    2. You entered into the relationship with the alleged abuser in good faith;
    3. You have been battered or you have been a victim of extreme cruelty caused by your US citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse;
    4. You are a person of good moral character and you have not been arrested or charged with violating any law.
  • A filing fee is not required for this type of petition
  • Once your petition is received by USCIS, it will be checked for eligibility under the self-petitioning provisions of the Violence Against Women Act (this process is called the “Prima Facie” determination).  If a “Prima Facie” determination is made, you will receive a notice of determination of a Prima Facie Case which is good for a period of 180 days.  This determination establishes the applicant’s eligibility for public benefits and work authorization.  While the petition is still pending the applicant may request an extension of the “Prima Facie” determination.
  • Immediately after the VAWA petition is approved, the beneficiary and derivatives (minor children) may commence their permanent residence process by submitting Form I-485 and required fees to the designated USCIS office.