"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. [...] During the debate of the VAWA reauthorization in 2013, two potential concerns for Congress were emphasized regarding the immigration provisions of VAWA. The first was whether the VAWA reauthorization would provide sufficient relief to foreign nationals abused by their U.S. citizen or LPR sponsoring relatives. Advocates for battered foreign nationals suggested that additional provisions were needed to assist this population in obtaining legal and economic footing independently of their original sponsors for legal immigrant status. [...] The second related concern was the degree to which VAWA provisions unintentionally facilitate immigration fraud. Critics of VAWA argued that such fraud might be occurring through what some perceived as relatively lenient standards of evidence to demonstrate abuse; as the unintended result of processing procedures between the District Offices of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which adjudicate most immigration applications, and the USCIS Vermont Service Center, which adjudicates VAWA petitions; or as an unintended consequence of the structure of current law. [...] While addressed to some extent in the VAWA reauthorization of 2013, these two issues remain ongoing and reflect the tension found in other provisions of U.S. immigration policy. Such policies often involve balancing the granting of immigration benefits with adequate enforcement to reduce fraud and ensure intended eligibility."
CRS Report for Congress, R42477