VAWA and U Visa

The Violence Against Women Act protects battered spouse, child or parent who are or were abused by an immediate relative who is a U. S. Citizen or a permanent resident.

The VAWA provisions in the Immigration and Nationality Laws  allow certain spouses, children, and parents of U.S. Citizens and certain spouses and children of permanent residents (Green Card holders) to file a petition for themselves, without the abuser's knowledge. This allows survivors to seek both safety and independence from their abuser, who is not notified about the filing.

Commonly Asked Questions

Who qualifies for a U Visa?

The U Visa, was created to help victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse, and are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.  To be eligible for a U visa:

  • You have been a victim of qualifying criminal activity;
  • Have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of the activity;
  • You have information about the criminal activity;
  • You are, or were helpful to law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of a crime; and
  • The crime occurred in the United States or violated U.S. laws.
What are some of the qualifying Criminal Activities?


Abusive Sexual Contact


Domestic Violence


False Imprisonment

Female Genital Mutation

Felonious Assault

Fraud in Foreign Labor





Involuntary Servitude




Obstruction of Justice





Sexual Assault

Sexual Exploitation

Slave Trade




Witness Tampering

 Unlawful Criminal Restraint

  • Other Related Crimes †



*Includes any similar activity where the elements of the crime are substantially similar.

†Also includes attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the above and other related crimes.

What are some non-legal resources?

Help is also available from the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TDD). The hotline has information about shelters, mental health care, legal advice and other types of assistance, including information about filing for immigration status. For more information, visit the National Domestic Violence website.