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What is VAWA?

VAWA allows abused immigrants to submit a petition to stay in the United States without having to rely on their abusive Citizen or LPR sponsor. Once the petition for VAWA has been granted, the abused immigrant can file an I-485 to adjust status and secure a green card.

  • Spouses – A spouse abused by a USC/LPR (children of the abused spouse can also qualify)
  • Children – A child abused by a USC/LPR Including: The spouse of a USC/LPR whose child has been abused may file a self-petition based on the abuse of the child.
  • Parents – The abused parent of a USC is also eligible.
  • Is she/he or was she/he married to USC or LPR?
  • Was the Marriage in good faith?
  • Has or had a qualifying relationship to the abuser
  • Subjected to battery or extreme cruelty by the abuser
  • Lives or lived with abuser
  • Good moral character

The first step is to File Form I-360 with the Vermont Service Center (VSC). If you qualify as an immediate relative, you can file I-360 and I-485 to adjust your status and secure your green card (permanent resident status). If you are a non-immediate relative, (spouse and children of LPR), you may also file the I-360 and I-485 with the VSC if their visa number is immediately available.

You may use another mailing address or a “safe address,” on Form I-360 . USCIS will use this safe address as the mailing address for all correspondence regarding the your VAWA-based immigration relief.

THERE IS NO FEE for the Form I-360 filed by VAWA self-petitioners.

You must submit documentation that would substantiate the abuse. Medical records or affidavits from individuals familiar with the abusive situation help to demonstrate the abuse. In the case of a self-petitioner whose spouse was a US citizen or lawful permanent resident, one must demonstrate good faith marriage. Documents such as marriage certificate, joint bank accounts, joint leases, joint credit card statements, and photographs help to establish good faith marriage.

Yes, you may receive work authorization while the application is pending if USCIS makes a prima facie determination. This means upon a first review USCIS believes that you are eligible for VAWA.  This is not an approval of the VAWA application, but it does allow for valid employment authorization while the VAWA application is pending.

You may also get work authorization once your VAWA visa has been granted.

Some of the benefits are that you do not need a sponsor for this visa. You can self petition. If your abuser’s status changes once your self-petition is filed, then this does impact your self petition.

Once the VAWA application is approved, you could be placed in deferred action to avoid removal from the U.S. You can remarry. The remarriage will not impact the approval of the self-petition. You can adjust status to lawful permanent resident. If you are an immediate relative (i.e. spouses, children, and parents of USCs), you can file for adjustment at the time you filed your VAWA self petition.

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