Violence Against Women Act

If you are a victim of abuse by your spouse that is a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (“LPR”), you and your children may be eligible for an immigration benefit under VAWA or the Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”). It is a straightforward process and, if eligible, you could file your VAWA Petition along with your application for Permanent Residency (“Green Card”) simultaneously. To apply for this petition, you must be physically present within the United States at the time of filing AND be admissible. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) has the discretion to approve VAWA petitions and can deny your petition if you are unable to show that you have good moral character (no arrests, outstanding taxes and/or judgments, history of FRAUD, Etc.). All grounds of inadmissibility are applied in VAWA cases except public charge grounds (if you have ever received public benefits then you are still eligible to apply), and you may even be able to remain in the United States while you wait for your green card even if you crossed the border or entered the United States illegally or without being inspected by a Border Patrol Officer.

Abuse can come in many different forms and is usually shown through evidence of physical assault and battering, forcing sex or rape, emotional abuse and manipulation, using one’s immigration status as a way to extort or blackmail, psychological abuse, intimidation, isolation from family and friend, and many other harmful and hurtful ways. Often times, immigrants are afraid to leave a toxic or unhealthy relationship with a U.S. Citizen or LPR, and they stay solely for immigration benefits or fear that they may be deported if they file for divorce or leave their abuser. If this is you, then you should not be forced to suffer and continue to be a victim of abuse and instead could be eligible to apply for benefits under VAWA. One important question you may have is “Do I have to remain married to apply?” and the answer is no. If you are currently married or divorced, you may still be eligible to apply for VAWA so long as you can prove that your marriage was “bona fide” – meaning that your marriage was real and not fraudulent or entered into solely for a green card and/or other immigration benefits. In other words, you will have to prove that you would have stayed married to your spouse if you had never been abused. To prove this, you will likely have to provide proof of your marriage (joint taxes, joint bank accounts, witness statements, pictures of wedding, etc.) along with proof that you suffered abuse at the hands of your U.S. Citizen or LPR Spouse (filing a restraining order and/or criminal charges, calling the police, pictures or recordings of bruises and injuries, witness statements, etc.). You should also meet with a licensed therapist or psychologist to assess if you have sustained and long-term or short-term effects of your abuse, including signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (”PTSD”), depression, thoughts of suicide, etc.

One important note is, although it is named the “Violence Against Women Act”, it does not matter if you are male or female and husbands/ex-husbands can apply for this benefit as well. We also frequently get asked whether or not you are allowed to travel after you have applied for VAWA and/or your green card is pending. You should always consult with your attorney before you decide to travel and be cautious to leave the United States even if you receive permission as you could possibly trigger a three-year, ten-year, or permanent bar. Finally, once you apply for your green card with your VAWA application you are entitled to receive your work permit.

Our Attorneys

Intuitive, insightful, assiduous, sedulous, diligent and meticulously commited to the success of our clients.

Mumtaz Wani

Lead Counsel

Mr. Wani is an eminent and a singularly distinguished attorney with over thirty years of extensive legal experience. His remarkable scholarship, comprehensive understanding of the law, coupled with his genuine, and veritable concern for the welfare of our clients, makes him an extremely rare and atypical find.

Antonio Ochoa


Antonio Ochoa is an experienced attorney who has successfully litigated and represented clients in a variety of matters, including Asylum and Removal Defense, Misdemeanor and Felony Criminal Trials, Child Custody Hearings, USDA Administrative Review for SNAP Violations, and Landlord/Tenant disputes.find.