Immigration Provisions of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) [May 15, 2012]   [open pdf - 449KB]

"The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 1994 and its subsequent reauthorizations in 2000 and 2005 authorized funding related to domestic violence for enforcement efforts, research and data collection, prevention programs, and services for victims. VAWA also increased penalties for certain domestic violence-related crimes and expanded the Federal Criminal Code to include new categories of crimes. With respect to noncitizens, VAWA gave abused noncitizen spouses the opportunity to 'self-petition' for themselves and/or their abused children for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status independently of their sponsoring spouses. In addition, the VAWA reauthorization in 2000 created the U visa, which protects and assists victims who assist law enforcement agencies in investigating and prosecuting an array of crimes that includes domestic violence. It is available to any foreign national who suffered physical or mental abuse as a victim of a qualifying crime that violated U.S. laws; has information about the crime; and was, is, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the crime. (For more information on U visas, see Appendix C. For a detailed legislative history of the immigration provisions in VAWA, see Appendix B.)"

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CRS Report for Congress, R42477
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