The Violence against Women Act (VAWA) allows certain spouses, children and parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents to file a petition for an immigrant visa on their own behalf based on their relationship to the abuser and without the knowledge of the abuser. The main idea behind this immigrant visa is that the battered spouse, child or parents can seek independence and safety from the abuser without their knowledge. Even though it is called the Violence against Women Act, it applies to both males and females equally.
Requirements for a Spouse
Requirements for a Child
Requirements for a Parent
Before you file the I-360 petition you need to determine are you the immediate relative of your abuser or do you have a current priority date (based on a previously filed I-130).
You can save a lot of time by filing your I-360 at the same time as your green card application. Otherwise you will have to wait for USCIS approval of the I-360 before moving forward with your green card application.
Once you submit the I-360 petition USCIS will review the self-petition to see whether it can be approved and if everything you said is true. If so, USCIS will send you a “Prima Facie Approval” letter. This means that you can qualify for some types of public assistance. After that USCIS will take more time to look carefully at your self-petition.
USCIS will either approve your I-360, send you a request for more evidence or if USCIS does not believe you qualify as an abused spouse, parent, or child, it may send you a “Notice of Intent to Deny.” The notice will state the reasons why they believe you do not qualify, and it will give you additional time to send evidence that will change their mind. USCIS can also deny your I-360 without sending you a Notice of Intent to Deny.
Adjustment of Status
If the abuser is a U.S. citizen, 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. You can apply for work authorization while you wait. Your place on the waiting list is based on your “priority date,” which is the date that your I-360 was approved. However, if the abuser previously filed an I-130 visa petition for you, you can use that priority date instead.
To learn more about your options contact our San Francisco law firm to speak with one of our immigration attorneys.