The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was enacted by congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in September 1994. This law allows the spouse of a US citizen to self-petition for legal permanent residence in the US. without the cooperation of his/her US citizen spouse, when the immigrant spouse has been subjected to mental, physical and emotional abuse by the US citizen spouse. In all other cases of marriage sponsorship, the US citizen sponsor must cooperate and sign the USCIS documents necessary to complete the sponsorship process, and attend the marriage interview. The immigrant spouse must provide evidence of the abuse claimed ie. police reports, orders of protection, medical and hospital reports, photographs of injuries, and Affidavits of Witnesses. In addition, the immigrant spouse must provide proof of a valid and subsisting marriage, and that it was entered into in good faith.
The application is made by filing Form I-360 with the USCIS.