Immigrants of all sorts come to the country to seek refuge from dangerous situations back home. Many people often think of refugees as people fleeing from large-scale humanitarian crises.
But this is not the case for everyone. For some, their lives are at stake because of people in their immediate lives. Such is the case with domestic abuse. Fortunately, there are options for such victims to find a path toward legally staying in the country.
VAWA expanded protections
The American Immigration Council discusses the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and what it means for immigrants seeking asylum. The main intent of VAWA is to protect women against domestic abuse and violence. The act initially covered citizens, but through the years, the protections it offers have expanded. VAWA is still pending review for renewal, but the newest iteration includes expanded assistance and protection for Native American women.
Self-petitioning with VAWA
Also of note: VAWA offers a form of petition for immigrants seeking refuge from abusive family members or spouses, too. It allows you to file a self-petition. In other words, you can file without having to rely on the abusive relative or spouse that would otherwise vouch for you. You can even file for a self-petition after already divorcing the abusive spouse. Just note that the divorce must have happened within two years, and it must have occurred due to abuse.
In a given year, you do not have to worry about limits for VAWA self-petitions. But it might take a while to process your petition, as it will get sorted into a backlog due to the preference system. These are all good facts to keep in mind while deciding what you want to do.