This guide should provide guidance and assistance for eligible VAWA applicants.
What is VAWA?
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) allows spouses and children of United States citizens or lawful permanent residents to self-petition for permanent resident status, without the abuser’s help or knowledge.
What are the eligibility requirements?
To self-petition for permanent residency under VAWA, an individual must:
Show that s/he lived with a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse;
Show that s/he was battered or subjected to extreme cruelty during the marriage;
Show that s/he entered the marriage in good faith;
Show s/he is otherwise qualified for admission; and
Show that s/he has good moral character.
Is VAWA gender specific?
No, males or females can apply for VAWA if s/he can demonstrate the eligibility criteria.
Does a divorce or a pending divorce to the abuser impact the case?
No, you may file Form I-360 if the marriage was terminated within 2 years prior to the date of filing, if you can demonstrate a connection between divorce and abuse.
What if there is no connection between the divorce and the abuse?
A battered spouse who cannot demonstrate such a connection may be eligible for battered spouse cancellation of removal if you 1) meet the other requirements to self-petition, 2) been physically present in the United States for 3 years immediately preceding the filing of the application and 3) must demonstrate that your removal from the United States would result in extreme hardship to you or your child.
What if I am still married to my abuser?
You may file a Form I-360 if you are still married to your abusive spouse.
What if I remarry?
If you remarry before the approval of the I-360, your case will be denied. Remarriage after the approval will not invalidate the approval.
What if my abusive spouse applied for an immigrate petition for me?
If you are the beneficiary of a Form I-130 filed by the abusive spouse, parent or child, you will be able to transfer the priority date of the Form I-130 to the Form I-360.
What if my case is denied?
If your petition is denied, you may file a Notice of Appeal along with the required fee at the Vermont Service Center within 33 days of receiving the denial. Once processed, the appeal will be referred to the Administrative Appeals Office in Washington, D.C.
What happens once my case is approved?
After USCIS approves your I-360, you can prepare your application to adjust your status. If the abuser is a U.S. citizen, then you are eligible to apply as soon as your I-360 has been approved. If the abuser is a permanent resident (green card holder), you will have to wait for a visa to become available in order to apply for your green card.
Will the abuser learn of my petition?
No, VAWA petitions are confidential and the government does not contact the abuser to confirm your allegations, but instead reviews your evidence to determine whether you meet the eligibility criteria.