VAWA is the Violence Against Women Act. It is an essential law protecting women in the United States.
This law was a long time in the making, but the U.S. Congress enacted it relatively recently in 1994. Like many newer pieces of legislation — and like many old ones, for that matter — this act is a living law, changing and adapting to meet new challenges and circumstances.
The official description
As the Office on Violence Against Women explains, VAWA is the representation of a complex response to various sex- and family-based violence, such as stalking, dating violence, sexual assault and domestic abuse. It approaches the challenge in a variety of ways:
- Providing federal money for communities
- Improving accountability of local law enforcement
- Improving victim housing protections
- Reforming criminal punishments
There is a great deal of mixed information available about this law. It is also quite complex. As a result, it could be more useful to look at how and where it makes the greatest difference in peoples’ lives.
Importance for immigrants
Per United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, one of the most important parts of VAWA is the potential for getting green cards for abused immigrants. The law is not just for women. Spouses, children and parents could be eligible, regardless of gender.
The procedure is generally to file a special immigrant form without the abuser’s knowledge. However, it is usually important to take the details of the situation into account before taking any action with USCIS.
It is unfortunately common for United States citizens or lawful permanent residents to treat immigrant family members with extreme violence. Filing under VAWA does not result in an automatic green card for every abused foreign national, but it could be a ray of hope for those who still believe in the American dream.