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U.S. Residency Through VAWA for Victims of Domestic Violence

Table of Contents

    What is VAWA?

    VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) is a law which allows certain immigrants or foreign nationals (men and women) and their children, who have been victims of domestic violence by their spouse, parent or child, who is a U.S. Legal Permanent Resident or Citizen, to self-petition to obtain their U.S. Residency or Green Card

    Who Is Eligible for a VAWA based U.S. Residency?

    Non-resident Spouses

    Non-resident Spouses who entered their marriage in good faith (not for immigration fraud), and were abused by their US resident or citizen spouse, or whose children have been abused by their US resident or citizen spouse (children under 21 may also be included in the spouse VAWA self petition), even when: 

    • The marriage was terminated by death or a divorce within 2 years of  the filing of the VAWA petition, (Form I-360);
    • The abusive spouse lost or renounced citizenship or permanent resident status within 2 years of the filing of the VAWA petition, due to an incident of domestic violence (see INA § 204(a)(1)(a)(iii))); or
    • You believed that you were legally married to your abusive U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse but the marriage was not valid because the abusive spouse engaged in bigamy

    Non-resident Children

    • Non-resident Children under 21, unmarried who have been abused by their US resident or citizen parent (a child may file after age 21 but before age 25, if they can prove that the delay was caused by the abuse).

    Non-resident Parents

    • Non-resident Parents abused by their US resident or citizen sons or daughters

    In addition to being in one of the above categories, if you are living outside of the United States when you file the VAWA self-petition, you must also demonstrate that the abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident relative is an employee of the U.S. government, the U.S. armed forces, or that you were subjected to battery or extreme cruelty in the United States.

    Once Granted Legal Permanent Residency What is its Duration?

    Once the Legal Permanent Residency status is granted, it does not expire as long as the alien meets all the conditions regarding the US Permanent Residency.  The actual Green Card or Residency Card does expire (like a driver’s license) and has to be renewed every 10 years.

    Family Benefits of VAWA

    Certain members of the immediate family of the alien might be eligible to obtain the permanent residency and all its benefits.  Specifically, abused spouses and children of abusive US citizens or US Legal Permanent Residents (LPR) may include unmarried children under 21 years of age as beneficiaries on their self-petition, while abused parents by their US citizen or LPR children may not.

    Permanent residency allows all family members to live, study and or work legally in the U.S.

    What Documentation Do I Need for a VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) Immigration case?

    • Copy of Birth Certificate, including birth certificate of abusive spouse and child if available
    • Copy of Marriage Certificate (if applicable)
    • Copy of Divorce Certificate(s) (if applicable)
    • Complete copy of Passport
    • Copy of Form I-94 [https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/recent-search] (if applicable)
    • 6 USCIS Photographs
    • Copy of Evidence of Citizenship or Resident Status of Abusive Spouse/Parent:
      • Green Card
      • Birth Certificate
      • Passport
      • Certificate of Naturalization
      • Complete copy of any prior immigration applications, notices, records, and supporting documents filed with or received from any US government agency (USCIS, ICE, CBP,NVC, Consulate, EOIR ….)
    • Complete copy of any criminal case, including certified court records, police report, criminal complaint, plea, court orders, probation records, and any other document – (if applicable)
    • Copy of complete court records for any other legal proceeding including Restraining Orders, Child Custody, Divorce, or other matter – (if applicable)

    Evidence of Domestic Violence

    • Copy of Medical Records which document the abuse
    • Copy of Counseling Records documenting the abuse
    • Copy of Police reports;
    • Copy of Court Records; (Restraining Orders, Divorce Proceedings based on abuse);
    • Copy of documents from school officials;
    • Copy of documents from clergy, social workers, and other social service agency personnel
    • Affidavit (must be detailed with information of relationship & incidents of abuse)
    • Copy of Evidence of Marriage in Good Faith (in the case of spousal abuse):
      • Joint bank records with direct deposit from all employers;
      • Joint utility bills / receipts;
      • School records;
      • Hospital or medical records;
      • Birth certificates of children;
      • Deeds, mortgages, rental records;
      • Insurance policies;
      • Joint Tax returns;
      • Employment Records;
      • Licenses / State ID’s; or
      • Photographs and Affidavits – extremely detailed (if necessary)
      • List of Social Media accounts that are used and copy of recent pages (if applicable)
      • Copy of Tax Returns for every year since marriage [https://www.irs.gov/individuals/gettranscript] (if available)

    What is the VAWA Process Like?

    1. Complete the Form I-360 (Immigrant Visa Petition), Form I-485 (Adjustment of Status), Form I-765 (Work Authorization Application). Form I-131 (Application for Travel Authorization) and other applications that may be pertinent to the individual situation, such as a Form I-601 waiver.
    2. File the Forms I-360, I-485, other applications and the supporting documents (The VAWA Petition) with the appropriate USCIS Service Center
    3. Upon receipt of the VAWA Petition, USCIS will send receipt notices and may issue a notice for a biometrics appointment with a local USCIS Application Support Center.
    4. Appear at the local USCIS Application Support Center for Biometrics processing (30-120 days). NOTE: The Biometrics appointment may be waived if USCIS re-uses prior Biometrics records.
    5. Approval of the Work Authorization Application (I-765) and the Travel Authorization (I-131) from USCIS will be issued after the initial review of the applications and the processing of the biometrics (usually within 8-11 months from the date of filing the applications).
    6. Receive the “Prima Facie Determination Notice” which is valid for a period of time and provides certain benefits to certain victims of domestic violence, such as access to healthcare and counseling programs.
    7. The foreign national may be required to attend an interview with a USCIS officer, for either the I-360, the I-485 or both, otherwise a decision may be issued by the USCIS Service Center.

    Please note that green card may be granted at the time of the interview if the priority date is current, but occasionally the USCIS will need additional time to complete mandatory security background checks.

    What are the USCIS Filing Fees?

    You will generally be required to pay the filing fees for the Form, I-485 and Biometrics, unless you are eligible for a Fee Waiver.  Click here to verify the U.S. Immigration Service fees as these change regularly.

    What are the Fees of our Boston Immigration lawyers to Petition for VAWA?

    Click here to learn more about our immigration legal fees.
    Click here if you would like to come in for a consultation with an experienced VAWA lawyer.

    Where Can I Get More Information?

    Client Reviews and Testimonials

    See all reviews or organize them by website!

    I really like that they speak so many languages and can help anyone!

    FitzGerald Law Company recently handled my immigration case for me and everything turned out great! The staff is excellent all the way from the secretary and assistant all the way up to the attorney. My attorney was Desmond Fitzgerald himself and he was excellent.

    Swarsatie R.

    They have been very supportive and professional

    My family and I have had an excellent experience with Desmond and his team at FitzGerald Law Company. They have been very supportive and professional, addressing our every concern. I feel fortunate to have found them and worked with them on my son's immigration case.

    Yoseph A.

    Highly recommend their services

    My husband and I reached out to FitzGerald Law Company, and we can only speak very highly of them. Very professional & reliable. I want to say big thanks to Desmond and Zrinka, who helped us throughout my immigration process. Highly recommend their services!

    Natasha A.

    They are on top of everything

    The Fitzgerald team is great and ready to help. They provide accurate information and never give a false picture of one's situation. They are on top of everything and work with you. The team are very thorough at what they do. I would highly recommend their legal services.

    Patricia M.

    They helped me with a personal injury case

    Highly recommend Mr Desmond Fitzgerald and his team. They helped me with a personal injury case. He was realistic about outcomes and professional and came through for me.

    Garo M.

    Experienced, professional, and caring

    It was a great pleasure to have Mr. FitzGerald as my attorney. He was always there when I needed him. He is experienced, professional, and caring. I would recommend his services to anyone. I greatly appreciate what he did for me and would like to take the chance to express my gratitude to his hard work. Thank you very much Mr. FitzGerald. You'r the best...

    Ahmed B.

    I really like that they speak so many languages and can help anyone!

    FitzGerald Law Company recently handled my immigration case for me and everything turned out great! The staff is excellent all the way from the secretary and assistant all the way up to the attorney. My attorney was Desmond Fitzgerald himself and he was excellent.

    Swarsatie R.

    They have been very supportive and professional

    My family and I have had an excellent experience with Desmond and his team at FitzGerald Law Company. They have been very supportive and professional, addressing our every concern. I feel fortunate to have found them and worked with them on my son's immigration case.

    Yoseph A.

    Highly recommend their services

    My husband and I reached out to FitzGerald Law Company, and we can only speak very highly of them. Very professional & reliable. I want to say big thanks to Desmond and Zrinka, who helped us throughout my immigration process. Highly recommend their services!

    Natasha A.

    They are on top of everything

    The Fitzgerald team is great and ready to help. They provide accurate information and never give a false picture of one's situation. They are on top of everything and work with you. The team are very thorough at what they do. I would highly recommend their legal services.

    Patricia M.

    A very well organized firm, experienced and professional.

    My experience was exceptionally great. A very well organized firm, experienced and professional. Customer service was excellent and the lawyer that handled my case, Desmond Fitzgerald was the best. He was very thorough and very experienced. He knows what he's talking about. All in all, I had a positive experience and I highly recommend this company, especially Desmond Fitzgerald, he's awesome.

    Mike A.

    They helped me with a personal injury case

    Highly recommend Mr Desmond Fitzgerald and his team. They helped me with a personal injury case. He was realistic about outcomes and professional and came through for me.

    Garo M.

    Experienced, professional, and caring

    It was a great pleasure to have Mr. FitzGerald as my attorney. He was always there when I needed him. He is experienced, professional, and caring. I would recommend his services to anyone. I greatly appreciate what he did for me and would like to take the chance to express my gratitude to his hard work. Thank you very much Mr. FitzGerald. You'r the best...

    Ahmed B.

    Very professional and dedicated a lot of time to my case

    Very professional and dedicated a lot of time to my case...kept me in the know throughout the whole process. I definitely recommend FitzGerald Law Company to anyone looking for representation in a court case. Thank you Desmond and the entire team.

    James K.

    He explained things in a way that was easily understandable and things went smoothly

    Mr Desmond and his team did a remarkable job in immigration for my family and I. He explained things in a way that was easily understandable and things went smoothly. Highly recommended

    Gassim F.

    They made the process very smooth and pleasant

    Desmond and his team did a great job during my husband’s green card application. Very diligent, reliable and knowledgeable. They made the process very smooth and pleasant. Highly recommended!

    Karol S.

    The team is wonderful, efficient and very helpful/ professional

    The best lawfirm in Massachusetts. The team is wonderful, efficient and very helpful/ professional.

    Zulia O.

    Very professional and dedicated a lot of time to my case

    Very professional and dedicated a lot of time to my case...kept me in the know throughout the whole process. I definitely recommend FitzGerald Law Company to anyone looking for representation in a court case. Thank you Desmond and the entire team.

    James K.

    He explained things in a way that was easily understandable and things went smoothly

    Mr Desmond and his team did a remarkable job in immigration for my family and I. He explained things in a way that was easily understandable and things went smoothly. Highly recommended

    Gassim F.

    They made the process very smooth and pleasant

    Desmond and his team did a great job during my husband’s green card application. Very diligent, reliable and knowledgeable. They made the process very smooth and pleasant. Highly recommended!

    Karol S.

    The team is wonderful, efficient and very helpful/ professional

    The best lawfirm in Massachusetts. The team is wonderful, efficient and very helpful/ professional.

    Zulia O.

    They make the process as simple as possible

    Our experience with the FitzGerald Law Company is beyond positive. They make the process as simple as possible and are there to help and support the entire time. Everyone we've been in touch from their office was nice and helpful. We won the case and we would definitely use their services again. Thank you Juan & the team!

    Anonymous for Firm

    They put in a lot of time into my case all the while keeping me informed of any and all developments

    A very professional and committed team...They put in a lot of time into my case all the while keeping me informed of any and all developments. I definitely recommend FitzGerald Law Company to anyone seeking legal representation. Thank you Desmond and the entire team.

    Anonymous for Firm

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    My husband and I reached out to FitzGerald Law Company, and we can only speak very highly of them. Very professional & reliable. I want to say big thanks to Desmond and Zrinka, who helped us throughout my immigration process. Highly recommend their services!

    Anonymous for Firm

    They are on top of everything

    The Fitzgerald team is great and ready to help. They provide accurate information and never give a false picture of one's situation. They are on top of everything and work with you. The team are very thorough at what they do. I would highly recommend their legal services.

    Anonymous for Firm

    I was very happy working with them and will be happy to work with them again

    The lawyer did an excellent job, it was really wonderful and inspiring to have him as a lawyer, he truly handled my case and everything went as expected. They always call or sent me an email to inform me the progress of my case, I am always feel welcomed when I meet with them. I was very happy working with them and will be happy to work with them again in the future.

    Anonymous for Firm

    I would definitely recommend Desmond and FitzGerald & Company to anyone looking for a professional, trustful immigration lawyer

    Desmond FitzGerald and his staff handles the daunting immigration legal paperwork with the utmost professionalism but always keeping the experience personal and realistic. I always felt that that I mattered. FitzGerald & Company has many payment options and they work with you to set up a payment plan which is affordable. {para}I would definitely recommend Desmond and FitzGerald & Company to anyone looking for a professional, trustful immigration lawyer.

    Anonymous for Firm

    They make the process as simple as possible

    Our experience with the FitzGerald Law Company is beyond positive. They make the process as simple as possible and are there to help and support the entire time. Everyone we've been in touch from their office was nice and helpful. We won the case and we would definitely use their services again. Thank you Juan & the team!

    Anonymous for Firm

    They put in a lot of time into my case all the while keeping me informed of any and all developments

    A very professional and committed team...They put in a lot of time into my case all the while keeping me informed of any and all developments. I definitely recommend FitzGerald Law Company to anyone seeking legal representation. Thank you Desmond and the entire team.

    Anonymous for Firm

    Highly recommend their services

    My husband and I reached out to FitzGerald Law Company, and we can only speak very highly of them. Very professional & reliable. I want to say big thanks to Desmond and Zrinka, who helped us throughout my immigration process. Highly recommend their services!

    Anonymous for Firm

    They are on top of everything

    The Fitzgerald team is great and ready to help. They provide accurate information and never give a false picture of one's situation. They are on top of everything and work with you. The team are very thorough at what they do. I would highly recommend their legal services.

    Anonymous for Firm

    I was very happy working with them and will be happy to work with them again

    The lawyer did an excellent job, it was really wonderful and inspiring to have him as a lawyer, he truly handled my case and everything went as expected. They always call or sent me an email to inform me the progress of my case, I am always feel welcomed when I meet with them. I was very happy working with them and will be happy to work with them again in the future.

    Anonymous for Firm

    I would definitely recommend Desmond and FitzGerald & Company to anyone looking for a professional, trustful immigration lawyer

    Desmond FitzGerald and his staff handles the daunting immigration legal paperwork with the utmost professionalism but always keeping the experience personal and realistic. I always felt that that I mattered. FitzGerald & Company has many payment options and they work with you to set up a payment plan which is affordable. {para}I would definitely recommend Desmond and FitzGerald & Company to anyone looking for a professional, trustful immigration lawyer.

    Anonymous for Firm

    I really like that they speak so many languages and can help anyone!

    FitzGerald Law Company recently handled my immigration case for me and everything turned out great! The staff is excellent all the way from the secretary and assistant all the way up to the attorney. My attorney was Desmond Fitzgerald himself and he was excellent.

    Swarsatie R.

    They have been very supportive and professional

    My family and I have had an excellent experience with Desmond and his team at FitzGerald Law Company. They have been very supportive and professional, addressing our every concern. I feel fortunate to have found them and worked with them on my son's immigration case.

    Yoseph A.

    Highly recommend their services

    My husband and I reached out to FitzGerald Law Company, and we can only speak very highly of them. Very professional & reliable. I want to say big thanks to Desmond and Zrinka, who helped us throughout my immigration process. Highly recommend their services!

    Natasha A.

    They are on top of everything

    The Fitzgerald team is great and ready to help. They provide accurate information and never give a false picture of one's situation. They are on top of everything and work with you. The team are very thorough at what they do. I would highly recommend their legal services.

    Patricia M.

    A very well organized firm, experienced and professional.

    My experience was exceptionally great. A very well organized firm, experienced and professional. Customer service was excellent and the lawyer that handled my case, Desmond Fitzgerald was the best. He was very thorough and very experienced. He knows what he's talking about. All in all, I had a positive experience and I highly recommend this company, especially Desmond Fitzgerald, he's awesome.

    Mike A.

    They helped me with a personal injury case

    Highly recommend Mr Desmond Fitzgerald and his team. They helped me with a personal injury case. He was realistic about outcomes and professional and came through for me.

    Garo M.

    Experienced, professional, and caring

    It was a great pleasure to have Mr. FitzGerald as my attorney. He was always there when I needed him. He is experienced, professional, and caring. I would recommend his services to anyone. I greatly appreciate what he did for me and would like to take the chance to express my gratitude to his hard work. Thank you very much Mr. FitzGerald. You'r the best...

    Ahmed B.

    Very professional and dedicated a lot of time to my case

    Very professional and dedicated a lot of time to my case...kept me in the know throughout the whole process. I definitely recommend FitzGerald Law Company to anyone looking for representation in a court case. Thank you Desmond and the entire team.

    James K.

    He explained things in a way that was easily understandable and things went smoothly

    Mr Desmond and his team did a remarkable job in immigration for my family and I. He explained things in a way that was easily understandable and things went smoothly. Highly recommended

    Gassim F.

    They made the process very smooth and pleasant

    Desmond and his team did a great job during my husband’s green card application. Very diligent, reliable and knowledgeable. They made the process very smooth and pleasant. Highly recommended!

    Karol S.

    The team is wonderful, efficient and very helpful/ professional

    The best lawfirm in Massachusetts. The team is wonderful, efficient and very helpful/ professional.

    Zulia O.

    They make the process as simple as possible

    Our experience with the FitzGerald Law Company is beyond positive. They make the process as simple as possible and are there to help and support the entire time. Everyone we've been in touch from their office was nice and helpful. We won the case and we would definitely use their services again. Thank you Juan & the team!

    Anonymous for Firm

    They put in a lot of time into my case all the while keeping me informed of any and all developments

    A very professional and committed team...They put in a lot of time into my case all the while keeping me informed of any and all developments. I definitely recommend FitzGerald Law Company to anyone seeking legal representation. Thank you Desmond and the entire team.

    Anonymous for Firm

    Highly recommend their services

    My husband and I reached out to FitzGerald Law Company, and we can only speak very highly of them. Very professional & reliable. I want to say big thanks to Desmond and Zrinka, who helped us throughout my immigration process. Highly recommend their services!

    Anonymous for Firm

    They are on top of everything

    The Fitzgerald team is great and ready to help. They provide accurate information and never give a false picture of one's situation. They are on top of everything and work with you. The team are very thorough at what they do. I would highly recommend their legal services.

    Anonymous for Firm

    I was very happy working with them and will be happy to work with them again

    The lawyer did an excellent job, it was really wonderful and inspiring to have him as a lawyer, he truly handled my case and everything went as expected. They always call or sent me an email to inform me the progress of my case, I am always feel welcomed when I meet with them. I was very happy working with them and will be happy to work with them again in the future.

    Anonymous for Firm

    I would definitely recommend Desmond and FitzGerald & Company to anyone looking for a professional, trustful immigration lawyer

    Desmond FitzGerald and his staff handles the daunting immigration legal paperwork with the utmost professionalism but always keeping the experience personal and realistic. I always felt that that I mattered. FitzGerald & Company has many payment options and they work with you to set up a payment plan which is affordable. {para}I would definitely recommend Desmond and FitzGerald & Company to anyone looking for a professional, trustful immigration lawyer.

    Anonymous for Firm

    I really like that they speak so many languages and can help anyone!

    FitzGerald Law Company recently handled my immigration case for me and everything turned out great! The staff is excellent all the way from the secretary and assistant all the way up to the attorney. My attorney was Desmond Fitzgerald himself and he was excellent.

    Swarsatie R.

    They have been very supportive and professional

    My family and I have had an excellent experience with Desmond and his team at FitzGerald Law Company. They have been very supportive and professional, addressing our every concern. I feel fortunate to have found them and worked with them on my son's immigration case.

    Yoseph A.

    Highly recommend their services

    My husband and I reached out to FitzGerald Law Company, and we can only speak very highly of them. Very professional & reliable. I want to say big thanks to Desmond and Zrinka, who helped us throughout my immigration process. Highly recommend their services!

    Natasha A.

    They are on top of everything

    The Fitzgerald team is great and ready to help. They provide accurate information and never give a false picture of one's situation. They are on top of everything and work with you. The team are very thorough at what they do. I would highly recommend their legal services.

    Patricia M.

    A very well organized firm, experienced and professional.

    My experience was exceptionally great. A very well organized firm, experienced and professional. Customer service was excellent and the lawyer that handled my case, Desmond Fitzgerald was the best. He was very thorough and very experienced. He knows what he's talking about. All in all, I had a positive experience and I highly recommend this company, especially Desmond Fitzgerald, he's awesome.

    Mike A.

    They helped me with a personal injury case

    Highly recommend Mr Desmond Fitzgerald and his team. They helped me with a personal injury case. He was realistic about outcomes and professional and came through for me.

    Garo M.

    Experienced, professional, and caring

    It was a great pleasure to have Mr. FitzGerald as my attorney. He was always there when I needed him. He is experienced, professional, and caring. I would recommend his services to anyone. I greatly appreciate what he did for me and would like to take the chance to express my gratitude to his hard work. Thank you very much Mr. FitzGerald. You'r the best...

    Ahmed B.

    Very professional and dedicated a lot of time to my case

    Very professional and dedicated a lot of time to my case...kept me in the know throughout the whole process. I definitely recommend FitzGerald Law Company to anyone looking for representation in a court case. Thank you Desmond and the entire team.

    James K.

    He explained things in a way that was easily understandable and things went smoothly

    Mr Desmond and his team did a remarkable job in immigration for my family and I. He explained things in a way that was easily understandable and things went smoothly. Highly recommended

    Gassim F.

    They made the process very smooth and pleasant

    Desmond and his team did a great job during my husband’s green card application. Very diligent, reliable and knowledgeable. They made the process very smooth and pleasant. Highly recommended!

    Karol S.

    The team is wonderful, efficient and very helpful/ professional

    The best lawfirm in Massachusetts. The team is wonderful, efficient and very helpful/ professional.

    Zulia O.

    They make the process as simple as possible

    Our experience with the FitzGerald Law Company is beyond positive. They make the process as simple as possible and are there to help and support the entire time. Everyone we've been in touch from their office was nice and helpful. We won the case and we would definitely use their services again. Thank you Juan & the team!

    Anonymous for Firm

    They put in a lot of time into my case all the while keeping me informed of any and all developments

    A very professional and committed team...They put in a lot of time into my case all the while keeping me informed of any and all developments. I definitely recommend FitzGerald Law Company to anyone seeking legal representation. Thank you Desmond and the entire team.

    Anonymous for Firm

    Highly recommend their services

    My husband and I reached out to FitzGerald Law Company, and we can only speak very highly of them. Very professional & reliable. I want to say big thanks to Desmond and Zrinka, who helped us throughout my immigration process. Highly recommend their services!

    Anonymous for Firm

    They are on top of everything

    The Fitzgerald team is great and ready to help. They provide accurate information and never give a false picture of one's situation. They are on top of everything and work with you. The team are very thorough at what they do. I would highly recommend their legal services.

    Anonymous for Firm

    I was very happy working with them and will be happy to work with them again

    The lawyer did an excellent job, it was really wonderful and inspiring to have him as a lawyer, he truly handled my case and everything went as expected. They always call or sent me an email to inform me the progress of my case, I am always feel welcomed when I meet with them. I was very happy working with them and will be happy to work with them again in the future.

    Anonymous for Firm

    I would definitely recommend Desmond and FitzGerald & Company to anyone looking for a professional, trustful immigration lawyer

    Desmond FitzGerald and his staff handles the daunting immigration legal paperwork with the utmost professionalism but always keeping the experience personal and realistic. I always felt that that I mattered. FitzGerald & Company has many payment options and they work with you to set up a payment plan which is affordable. {para}I would definitely recommend Desmond and FitzGerald & Company to anyone looking for a professional, trustful immigration lawyer.

    Anonymous for Firm