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Cancellation under the Violence Against Women Act stands for the Violence Against Women Act. Enacted in 1994, VAWA allows certain persons who are the victims of domestic violence to file an immigrant visa petition. VAWA is not just available for battered spouses, other persons eligible for VAWA include: parents of United States citizen children who have been abused by that child and children under the age of 21, who are unmarried, and have been abused by their U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent(s).

The most common VAWA cases involve spouses who are victims of domestic violence by their U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse. In order to qualify for VAWA you must be married to a U.S. citizen who has emotionally or physically abused you OR you were in a marriage with a U.S. citizen who had emotionally or physically abused you that terminated due to death or divorce within 2 years immediately preceding the filing of your petition. VAWA petitions are also available to those persons who believed they were legally married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, who are the victims of emotional or physical abuse by that spouse, but the marriage is illegitimate and unlawful due to your spouse’s bigamy.

Once you have demonstrated you are involved in a qualifying relationship under VAWA, you must show that you have suffered batter or extreme cruelty, that you entered into your marital relationship in good faith, that you have good moral character, and that you have lived with your spouse in the past.

With your VAWA application you must include a completed form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant. You must also include any and all supporting documentation you have to support your claims including (but not limited to): letters of support from friends and family, police reports, protective orders, medical records and/or psychiatric records, and a declaration written by you detailing the abuse that occurred.

VAWA is an available form of relief to persons both in and out of removal proceedings. IF you are in removal proceedings there are extra requirements that must be fulfilled in order to apply for VAWA cancellation of removal. In addition to all of the requirements listed above you must also show that you have been physically present in the United States for a continuous period of at least 3 years immediately preceding your application, that you have never been convicted of an aggravated felony, that your removal would create extreme hardship to you, your child, or your parent, and that you are not inadmissible or deportable under certain federal statutes.

Once your VAWA application has been approved, you will be eligible to both file for your green card AND obtain an Employment Authorization Document permitting you to work in the U.S.