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Who is eligible to file a visa petition under the Violence Against Women Act?

When victimized by domestic abuse, securing a safe, healthy life for yourself is of the utmost importance. That is why the Immigration and Nationality Act allows victims of abuse to petition for a visa when experiencing abuse from a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, abused spouses and family members receive protection based on the Violence Against Women Act. While women are most often the victims of abuse, men can also file for a visa based on the provisions within the Act. Here is how you can determine eligibility.

Parents

Parents are eligible if they receive abuse from an adult child who is at least 21 years old. You must either currently live with or lived with the child in the past. If deceased, you must have filed the petition within the two years prior to the death of the child.

Spouses

Abused spouses must have lived with the abuser and must have agreed to marriage in “good faith.” That means the marriage was legitimate and not conducted solely for immigration purposes. However, if the marriage was illegitimate for another reason, such as bigamy, you may still file for a visa.

Children

Children are also permitted to petition for a visa when subject to abuse. Parents can include their children in their filing, or children may file on their own.

Most importantly, the abuser does not receive a notice of the visa petition. This is to protect the victim of abuse from potential retribution for attempting to leave the abuser. Abuse victims must file Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant. You may also have access to benefits provided to victims of domestic abuse.