The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) amended the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) in order to protect battered immigrant spouses, children, and parents from further abuse. VAWA allows certain immigrants to petition for themselves and thereby apply for permanent residency if their would-be-petitioner was abusive. This process allows the abused immigrant to ask for help without the knowledge of his or her abuser. There are certain eligibility requirements to qualify for this form of relief. The applicant must show that he or she (1) resided with the abuser; (2) was battered or subjected to extreme cruelty during the marriage; (3) the marriage was entered into in “good faith” (i.e. not solely for immigration purposes); (4) is otherwise eligible for immediate relative status; and (5) is a person of “good moral character.” We can add a sixth requirement as well that the petition must be filed either when you are still married to the abuser or within 2 years after a death or divorce. Each of these eligibility criteria are complex and will require a showing of strong evidence. Another way in which an immigrant can claim relief under VAWA is to raise it as a defense during deportation proceedings. Eligible immigrants who have been charged with removal and are entitled to VAWA cancellation of removal may be able to avoid deportation altogether. You may be eligible for this form of relief if you are the abused spouse, child, or the parent of an abused child, of a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident. In order to qualify for relief, you must have been living in the U.S. for the past three years, you must never have been convicted of an aggravated felony, you must be not guilty of certain criminal or marriage fraud violations, you must have good moral character, and you must show that there would be an extreme hardship to you, your child, or your parents, if you were deported. Getting relief under VAWA also can entitle you to work authorization in the United States, as well as opening a path for you to obtain permanent resident status and remain in the U.S. As a result, VAWA provides an important form of relief from deportation for certain eligible individuals. Even if you are ineligible for relief under one aspect of VAWA, you may be successful under another provision of the law. The Oakland deportation defense attorneys of Landerholm Immigration, A.P.C. know how to help you through every step of your deportation proceedings. Take the first step today toward securing the future of your family in the United States, and call our office at (510) 756-4468 to set up a free evaluation with one of our highly skilled California immigration lawyers.