Humanitarian Pathways

Our laws have created compassionate pathways for certain people to become permanent residents. Humanitarian pathways to a Green Card allow victims of crime, abuse and neglect to self-petition for a Green Card. These pathways include the following types of petitions:

  • VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) for victims of domestic violence
  • Special Immigrant Juveniles Status for youth who are abused, neglected or abandoned
  • U-visa for crime victims
  • T-visa for victims of trafficking

VAWA Green Card Petition

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a federal law that grants certain benefits to people who are victims of domestic violence. It includes a special pathway for victims to self-petition for a Green Card. Victims may also seek adjustment of status rather than having to leave the U.S. to obtain their Green Card. While waiting for the Green Card approval, the victim-petitioner may receive work authorization and be eligible for certain public benefits and financial aid.


To be eligible for the VAWA petition, the victim-petitioner must have a relationship with the abuser. She must be:

  1. The spouse or child of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, or
  2. The parent of a U.S. citizen son/daughter over the age of 21

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The victim-petitioner must have suffered “battery and/or extreme cruelty” during the relationship with the abuser. The harm can be physical, mental, sexual, financial abuse and/or extreme cruelty.  She must also prove that she has a good moral character.


The victim-petitioner must submit certain evidence to prove her relationship to the abuser.  For example, marriage certificate, divorce decree, birth certificate, adoption papers, etc.  She must also prove that the abuser is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. If she cannot obtain documentation to prove the status of the abuser, the government may conduct research to determine whether the abuser is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. She must also prove that she lived with the abuser.

Importantly, the victim-petitioner must show that she was abused. Immigration Services accepts the following types of evidence of abuse:

  • Police records
  • Court records
  • Affidavits
  • Medical records
  • Clergy letter
  • Photographs of injuries
  • Social worker or counselor letter

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Contact us today at 1(718) 301-9732 to schedule your consultation.