VAWA, or the Violence Against Women Act, is a federal law enacted during the Clinton administration. This law provides a means for battered spouses to obtain a green card without the assistance of the U.S. citizen, or legal permanent resident, who is abusing them. Either a man or woman can submit a petition under VAWA.

If one is applying as a battered spouse under VAWA, they must have been married to the U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident and have lived together at some point, or if they are divorced, they must be able to show that the abuse they suffered is related to the divorce. One must also show that the marriage was entered into in good faith.

A person merely living with their abusive partner would not be eligible for VAWA immigration relief. Similarly, an abusive partner who is neither a citizen nor a legal permanent resident will not provide one with VAWA immigration relief.

Additionally, domestic violence may also give an individual a path to permanent status via a U-Visa. Where an individual may not qualify to self-petition under VAWA, they may seek a U-Visa. An abusive relationship with a citizen or legal permanent resident is unnecessary in seeking a U-Visa. The individual needs to have helpful information for law enforcement, and show serious mental or physical injury due to abuse. A U-Visa allows a three year stay in the country, with the ability to apply for a green card in the future.

Because of VAWA and U-Visa, non-citizens may have significant motivation to fabricate allegations of domestic violence, because of how such allegations would facilitate and expedite a path to long-term legal status in this country. In some domestic violence cases, a defense put forth by your criminal defense lawyer may focus on an accuser’s knowledge of these laws and utilization of this knowledge in fabricating charges for their own benefit.

Attorney Diego has successfully asserted such a defense in prior cases. If you believe such a defense may be implicated in your case, contact Denver Domestic Violence Attorney Kimberly Diego today for a free consultation at (720) 257-5346.