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Legal Information: Federal


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January 30, 2018

What is a VAWA self-petition?

A self-petition is a way to apply for lawful status in the US on your own by submitting an application to the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) requesting lawful status in the US without the assistance of the abuser. This application is called a self-petition because you are applying for legal status by yourself and you are not sponsored by anyone. You may be eligible to self-petition for lawful permanent residence without the assistance of the abuser if you are abused by:

  • your spouse and s/he is US citizen (USC) or legal permanent resident (LPR) (or if you are the spouse of a USC or LPR and s/he has abused your child);
  • a USC or LPR parent (including a step-parent); or
  • a USC adult son or daughter (not LPR son or daughter).1

Note: Please continue on to the next question (Who is eligible to self-petition?) because these categories are explained in more detail.

To determine if you qualify for a VAWA self-petition or another form of immigration relief, you should consult an immigration lawyer with experience in VAWA. Our 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 INA § 204(a)(1)(A) & (B)