WomensLaw serves and supports all survivors, no matter their sex or gender.

Legal Information: Federal


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Laws current as of May 29, 2024

What do I have to prove to be able to file for a VAWA self-petition?

VAWA self-petitioning is similar to filing a regular family immigration application but with some additional requirements.1 Just like the regular family immigration system, VAWA self-petitioning is for close family members of US citizens or lawful permanent residents, so you must prove your relationship to the abuser. You also must show you have “good moral character” and that you have suffered “battery or extreme cruelty,” which is how Congress described domestic abuse in the immigration law. For details on how to show these requirements, go to our Eligibility for VAWA self-petitions section.

Because immigration law is so complicated, and VAWA self-petitioning is a special area of immigration law, we strongly encourage you and your domestic violence advocate to work with an immigration lawyer with experience in VAWA. Our National Organizations - Immigration page lists national organizations working in the area of immigration law and our Finding a Lawyer page includes the contact information of legal organizations and lawyer referral services by state.

1 8 USC § 1154(a)(1)(A) and (B); INA § 204(a)(1)(A), (a)(1)(B)