Experiences of Immigrant Women Who Self-Petition Under the Violence Against Women Act [pdf]

Undocumented immigrant women who are abused and living in the United States are isolated in a foreign country, in constant fear of deportation, and feel at the mercy of their spouse to gain legal status. To ensure that immigration law does not trap women in abusive relationships, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA, 1994) enabled immigrant women to self-petition for legal status. Qualitative research methods were used in this participatory action research to investigate the experiences of Mexican immigrant women filing VAWA self-petitions. Emotional, financial, and logistic barriers in applying are identified, and recommendations for practice research and policy are provided.