The Violence Against Women Act was passed in 1994. Under this Act, people who have been abused by a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse or parent can get a green card without the help of the abuser. The Act is intended to help immigrants who feel forced to remain in an abusive relationship because the abuser is holding their lack of legal status against them. It is important to note that the victim doesn’t have to be a woman; men are often victims of abuse as well. And the Act applies to abused spouses in same-sex marriages also. In order for a spouse to qualify under the Act, the abusive spouse must be a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident. The victim must have entered the marriage in good faith, and the abuse must have occurred during the marriage. Also, the victim must be residing in the U.S.–or the abuse must have occurred in the U.S. The victim must have lived with the abuser, and he or she must be a person of good moral character. If the victim is no longer married to the abuser because of the abuse, the VAWA petition must be filed within two years of the termination of the marriage. If you or your children have been the victim of domestic violence by your U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse, please contact our office for a VAWA consultation. And remember, domestic violence doesn’t just involve physical abuse. It can also involve threat of bodily harm, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and threat of turning the person into immigration or taking the person’s children away. Any information revealed to us during a consultation will be entirely confidential.