Immigration Provisions of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) [February 15, 2013]   [open pdf - 470KB]

"The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) includes provisions to assist foreign nationals who have been victims of domestic abuse. These provisions, initially enacted by Congress with the Immigration Act of 1990 and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 1994, afford benefits to abused foreign nationals and allow them to self-petition for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status independently of the U.S. citizen or LPR relatives who originally sponsored them. Congress reauthorized VAWA with the Battered Immigrant Women Protection Act of 2000, which also created the U visa for foreign national victims of a range of crimes--including domestic abuse--who assisted law enforcement. A second reauthorization in 2005 added protections and expanded eligibility for abused foreign nationals. Authorization for appropriations for the programs under VAWA expired in 2011. The 112th Congress passed two bills, S. 1925 and H.R. [House Resolution] 4970, reauthorizing most VAWA programs, among other provisions. Despite containing some related immigration provisions, H.R. 4970 differed in substantive ways from S. 1925. It did not extend protections to new groups to the same extent as S. 1925 and included more restrictions with the purpose of curtailing immigration fraud. Most notably, it maintained the annual number of U visas at its current limit of 10,000, in contrast with S. 1925 which would have increased the number to 15,000. To fund the increase in U visas, S. 1925 included a revenue provision that created a 'blue slip' procedural complication. Negotiations stalled between the chambers, and neither bill was enacted into law."

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CRS Report for Congress, R42477
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