Current VAWA Status
As of January 2020, the Violence Against Women Act has not been renewed, so how can an immigrant suffering physical, mental, financial, or sexual abuse from an American citizen or permanent resident who is their spouse, parent, or child seek help from VAWA?
Bottom line, you can still apply, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), because even though VAWA has not been reauthorized, VAWA is still funded:
“UPDATE (1/17/19): NCADV has just learned that VAWA grantees can continue to draw down funds as normal until further notice. The Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) remains fully operational and is currently accepting grant applications. Grant application deadlines will not be extended due to the shutdown. We encourage grantees to contact their program managers with further questions.” – (https://ncadv.org/blog/posts/yes-vawa-expired-what-this-means-how-we-got-here-and-)
VAWA Renewal Status
First passed into law in 1994, and reauthorized in 2000, 2005, and 2013, VAWA was not renewed in 2018 due to the federal government shutdown.
The House of Representatives voted to reauthorize VAWA in April 2019, but the Senate objected to the bill’s new provisions and declined to pass it. A compromise is being worked on.
The VAWA bill passed by the House in 2019 includes new provisions contested by the Senate. According to news sources, these provisions are:
- Expanding housing protections for survivors
- Added training in early childhood programs on domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking
- Raising the annual grants for combating violent crimes on campuses from $12 million to $16 million
- Expanding gun buying restrictions to include individuals with a misdemeanor conviction of domestic abuse or stalking
- Added resources to Services, Training, Officers and Prosecutors (STOP) for local response to occurrences of domestic violence
- Raising SMART Prevention Grant funding to support youth violence prevention education programs from $15 million to $45 million yearly through 2024
- Expanding law enforcement tools and safeguards for the Office on Violence Against Women within the U.S. Department of Justice
VAWA Funding Situation
Per the NCADV’s blog:
“VAWA funding is not in danger in the long term. Federal discretionary funding goes through two processes: authorization and appropriation. When Congress authorizes a program, it gives the Appropriation Committee permission to fund the program. The Appropriations Committees decide how much money a program actually gets. Appropriators frequently fund unauthorized programs – VAWA was unauthorized between 2010 and 2013 and was still funded. Only grant programs need to be authorized; the rest of VAWA never ‘expires.’”
Who Is Eligible for VAWA?
Any immigrant, male or female, who is being abused by a spouse, parent, or child – AND – their abuser is an American citizen or permanent resident (green card) – AND – can document their physical, mental, financial or sexual abuse, may apply to VAWA.
There are also U Visa and the T Visa programs, but these have more onerous requirements and limited slots.
The U visa is set aside for victims of crime, while the T visa is for victims of human trafficking.
For most abused immigrants, VAWA may be the best choice.
Where To Go For Help
Since abused immigrants are often in a precarious financial situation, there is online help from the National Domestic Violence Hotline at www.thehotline.org.
Information is also available at VAWA Law – www.vawalaw.om
And there are NGOs (non-government organizations) which may be researched online who offer help. Search for NGO + domestic violence.
For the scope and history of VAWA, www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violence_Against_Women_Act.