The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was first passed in 1994 and offers immigrants fleeing abuse and violence a path to obtain legal immigrant status in the United States. It has been reauthorized multiple times throughout the past administrations, but the Trump administration has indicated that it is considering significant cuts to the Act’s grant funding. These cuts can be especially devastating to the immigrants who rely on VAWA.
Current VAWA Requirements
VAWA is a way for abused immigrants to receive a valid immigration status independent of their abuser. This Act is an important protection for many immigrants, who are able to free themselves of their abuser without losing their immigration status. Despite the title of the Act, individuals are able to apply if they meet the requirements, regardless of gender. Women tend to make up the majority of petitioners, however.
Petitioners must meet the following requirements to be eligible for aid through VAWA:
- Petitioners must be the spouse, child, or parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.
- Petitioners have suffered extreme cruelty or physical assault by the relative.
- Petitioners who are married must have entered into the marriage in good faith.
- Petitioners must be a person of good moral character, though those under 14 are considered to be of good character by virtue of their age.
- You have shared a residence with your abuser for more than a perfunctory time.
The Act is permanent and does not require congressional reauthorization. The funding that supports the act is subject to reauthorization every few years, however, and supporters are concerned that the programs and grants of the Act may be in danger of severe budget cuts. VAWA has long been criticized by conservative organizations, like the Heritage Foundation, for being a misuse of federal resources, and the new administration’s close ties to these organizations may influence their decision to slash funding for VAWA and similar protections for immigrants.
The future of VAWA is uncertain. If the grants that fund programs provided through the act are cut, the community programs will be the first to feel it. These cuts can trickle down to individual immigrants through a lack of resources and reduced assistance. For many immigrants, these cuts can leave them facing real, physical harm. Unfortunately, for many victims of abuse, these potential budget cuts can have dangerous effects.
Speak to a San Jose Immigration Law Attorney – (408) 560-4622
At Verma Law Firm, we understand how critical immigrant protections like VAWA are for our clients. Our experienced San Jose immigration lawyers are committed to protecting the rights of immigrants. Call our offices at (408) 560-4622 or contact us online to request a consultation and begin your case. Our attorneys are prepared to meet your legal needs.