VAWA in Los Angeles, CA

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) permits certain victims of domestic violence to file a self-petition with USCIS. A self-petition means that the victim of domestic violence will not require a U.S. citizen family member to file a petition for them—instead they can file the petition on their own behalf.

The basic requirements of VAWA are as follows:

  • The intending self-petitioner must prove that s/he is a spouse, child (unmarried and under age 21)/parent of an abused child (unmarried and under age 21), or parent who was physically battered and/or subjected to “extreme cruelty” by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse, parent or adult child. Such abuse may include evidence of:
  • physical abuse, violent acts or threats of violence, sexual abuse or exploitation, verbal abuse and degradation, emotional abuse, isolation, intimidation, economic abuse, coercion or threats to take away children or have one deported

It is not a requirement to have a police report. Many victims are fearful of calling the police and this does not preclude them from filing a VAWA self-petition.

  • Abused spouses must additionally prove that the marriage was entered into in good faith, that the abuse occurred during the marriage, and that the marriage is still valid or was terminated less than two years prior to self-petitioning.
  • The abuse must have occurred in the United States, and the victim must have lived with the abuser.
  • The self-petitioner must provide evidence of his/her “good moral character.” This usually refers to a review of the self-petitioners criminal record or other immigration transgressions. Certain arrests or transgressions may be waived if the self-petitioner can show such actions were connected to the abuse s/he suffered.