If you fled your country due to an abusive significant other or family member, what options do you have? You may wish to seek asylum. However, this process is often tricky and not many immigrants pass the approval process.
As a woman, you may instead have hope in the Violence Against Women Act. Though currently waiting for reauthorization, this act could help countless immigrants escape abusive situations.
What does VAWA protect against?
The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) discusses the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in more detail. First, as noted above, VAWA currently waits for reauthorization after several delays in 2019 and 2020. New provisions would include the improvement of housing protections and safe housing options. It would increase avenues for justice and promote economic security for survivors. It would also increase investment in sexual and domestic violence protection. Finally, it supports efforts to reduce homicide related to domestic violence.
What is a self-petition?
In the previous reauthorization, VAWA also extended benefits for some immigrants. VAWA allowed for a limitless amount of self-petitions. Noncitizen victims of child abuse, domestic violence or elder abuse could file a self-petition. You did not need the cooperation of the abuser in order to file. Self-petitions were available for:
- Children of abusive U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents who file before turning 25
- A noncitizen parent of an abused child, even if they did not suffer abuse themselves
- Spouses or ex-spouses of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents
- Noncitizen spouses with a child abused by their U.S. citizen or LPR parent
These protections still remain crucial for many immigrants today. This is why the reauthorization of VAWA should take priority.