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Legal residency through VAWA

​If you are an immigrant domestic violence victim, you may be able to file a “self-petition” under VAWA to obtain legal residency status for yourself and your child(ren) if you:

  • Are currently married to a USC or LPR, 
  • Were married to a USC or LPR, or 
  • Have been divorced from a USC or LPR for up to two years and can show that the marriage ended in divorce due to domestic violence or extreme cruelty.

Filing a self-petition does not require the consent of the USC or LPR spouse. Unmarried children under the age of 21 who are being abused by a parent who is a citizen or an LPR are also eligible for VAWA. If your citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse has abused your child, you may also qualify for VAWA even if you have not been abused yourself.

Cancellation of removal under VAWA is another route to legal residency for immigrant domestic violence victims. Immigrant spouses of United States citizens or LPRs may be eligible for cancellation of removal without the consent of their LPR or USC spouse if they:

  • Are battered or have suffered extreme cruelty, 
  • Have resided continuously in the United States for at least three years prior to their application, and 
  • Can show that removal will result in extreme hardship to themselves or children.

Also, if you are the parent of a child who has been battered or who has suffered extreme cruelty by the citizen or LPR parent, you may be eligible for VAWA cancellation of removal. This method is only available to you if you are in, or can be placed into, deportation/removal proceedings.


This information is from Domestic Violence: A Guide to the Legal Rights of Domestic Violence Victims in New Jersey.​​