Immigrant women and other victims of crime may seek protection under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). VAWA may provide the protection you need. It also provides crucial services to other survivors of domestic abuse and violence.
Unfortunately, VAWA is currently awaiting review for renewal. But it is important to familiarize yourself with the potential protections in case it may apply in the future.
Self-petition under VAWA
The American Immigration Council discusses how VAWA helps immigrants. You can file a self-petition under VAWA for LPR status. For this petition, you do not need the cooperation or participation of the abusive child, partner or parent who may act against you. You can even self-petition after divorce, as long as the divorce happened within 2 years of your petition. You must also have a connection between domestic abuse and the divorce.
You must have work authorization, deferred action and an approved noncitizen petition. Then, through VAWA, you can file for lawful permanent residency. Understand that by filing in this way, you are still subject to backlogs that currently exist. You are also subject to the family preference system. There are no limits on the number of VAWA self-petitions you may file in a given year.
Benefits of LPR status
Gaining LPR status allows you more protections than a non-citizen. Through this, you can worry less about keeping a job or pleasing an abuser who holds your non-citizen status over your head.
If you face or faced abuse from a U.S. citizen, consider seeking the aid of a legal expert. They can discuss more about your options when seeking refuge as a non-citizen in the United States.