The Frager Sutton Haupt Law Firm, PLLC
Memphis, TN Office
Phone: 901-763-3188
Nashville, TN Office
Phone: 615-366-1000


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Emergency Hotline 901-763-3180



Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

When an abusive U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or parent is unwilling to file for permanent residency on behalf of a spouse or children, the spouse or children may be able to self-petition.

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) protects the foreign victim’s rights against domestic violence, abuse, or assault and battery by allowing him or her to self-sponsor for permanent residency. A battered spouse may self-petition and also petition on behalf of his or her abused children. Abused children under 21 may also self-petition.

Self-petitioning spouse

To qualify, the self-petitioning spouse must establish the following facts:

  • Legal marriage to a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident (LPR)
  • Good moral character
  • Abuse which took place in the United States (unless married to a U.S. government employee or member of the U.S. military)
  • Extreme cruelty to the U.S. citizen or LPR’s spouse or child during the marriage
  • Good faith marriage, which was not for immigration benefits
Self-petitioning child

To qualify under VAWA, a child must establish:

  • He or she is a child as defined in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
  • Other relevant evidence that proves the relationship with the parent
  • Abuse or extreme cruelty
VAWA defenses

Aliens involved in deportation and removal proceedings may have VAWA defenses available, even if a previous removal order has been issued in immigration court.

Aliens who entered illegally may be able to self-petition under VAWA for permanent residency if married to a U.S. citizen.

Violent crime victims who help authorities take their assailants into custody may qualify for T or U visas.

Get the help you need

Abusive spouses often use the threat of deportation to prevent a child or spouse from seeking help. If you or someone close to you is a domestic violence victim, you can get information about shelters, healthcare and other assistance through the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 [TDD].

Lawyers at the Frager Law Firm advise VAWA victims of their legal rights. Contact us 24 hours a day at 901-763-3180 or during regular business hours at one of our offices.


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Memphis Office: 901-763-3188     Nashville Office: 615-366-1000

The Frager Law Firm is located in Memphis, TN and serves clients through out Tennessee and the United States. This website is designed for general information only. The information presented in this website should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.

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