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VAWA Document Collection Checklist for Self-Petitioners

Immigrant survivors of domestic abuse can apply for VAWA relief.

This checklist, created by the Tahirih Justice Center, can help applicants gather the documents they need to support their VAWA self-petition.

Each and every document listed is not necessary. Only some proof of each category is mandatory. This list provides only suggestions. All documents must be in English or translated into English. Information regarding any and all of these categories can be included in the applicant’s family or family members' friend’s affidavits.

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This checklist is part of TexasLawHelp's material on Immigration Laws & Rights.

WARNING! These instructions provide general information, not legal advice. It’s a good idea to talk with a lawyer about your particular situation. For help finding a lawyer, use the Legal Help Finder tool. Under step 2, select "individual rights," then under step 3, select "Immigration Laws & Rights." This will generate a list of nonprofit organizations that help with immigration.

You can print this checklist if a hard copy would help you.




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Applicant’s Identity and Current Status
  • Applicant and children’s birth certificates
  • Applicant and children’s passports and I-94 (expired or current)
  • Applicant’s Driver’s License
  • Any documentation to or from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Evidence of Abuser’s Status
  • Birth certificate (if born in the U.S.)
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Green card (permanent residency card)
  • U.S. Passport
  • Alien number
  • Affidavits by persons with knowledge of the abuser’s immigration status
Proof of Relationship and Good Faith Marriage

Evidence of “residence with abuser” plus:

  • Marriage certificates
  • Birth certificates of children together
  • Wedding photos and other photos of spouses together (before and after wedding)
  • Letter from employer stating changed name or listed spouse as contact
  • Photo IDs (with married name)
  • Declarations from friends and neighbors
  • Wills or joint life/health insurance documents
  • Joint car ownership documentation and joint auto insurance
  • Correspondence between spouses or between abuser & applicant’s family members
  • Correspondence addressed to the couple
  • Proof of vacations taken together
  • Proof of major purchases made together
Residence with Abuser and Current Residence in U.S.
  • Leases, deeds, mortgages with name (both names if for co-residence), rent receipts, letters from landlord or neighbors at each address
  • Tax returns (joint for co-residence)
  • Insurance policies naming spouse as beneficiary
  • Letters, cards, junk mail addressed to both spouses or different letters to each spouse at the same address
  • Gas/electric/water/cable/telephone/rent bills
  • School and medical reports
  • Credit card bills
  • Joint bank accounts
  • Magazine subscriptions in both names
  • Affidavits by people who knew applicant and abuser lived together
  • Legal documents with both names
Good Moral Character
  • Police clearance letters for every place applicant has lived for 6 months or more for past 3 years, or affidavits explaining efforts to obtain; FBI background check
  • Awards, certificates of appreciation, etc.
  • Letter from pastor, minister, church or civic club official


Abuse/Extreme Cruelty
  • Police reports (incident reports and victim’s referral card)
  • Restraining/protective orders
  • Photos of bruises, cuts, injuries, etc.
  • Shelter or Women’s Center forms or letters from center counselors
  • Medical records/physiological evaluations
  • CPS reports
  • Affidavits from friends/family/neighbors/witnesses