Immigration Law Firm

VAWA Self-Petition for Battered Spouses, Children, or Parents

Under the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA), the spouse, child or parent of a United States citizen (USC), or the spouse or child of a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) who has been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by their USC/LPR family relative may file a self-petition based on the abuse they have endured. VAWA self-petitioners may concurrently or subsequently apply for lawful permanent status.

General Eligibility Requirements:

A VAWA self-petitioner must establish or demonstrate the following:

  • A valid qualifying relationship to a USC or LPR.
  • Where the self-petition is based on marriage, proof of that marital union was entered into in good faith.
  • Residence with the USC or LPR abuser.
  • Battery or extreme cruelty. Battery or extreme cruelty include a range of abusive behaviors that result or threaten to result in physical or mental injury.
  • Good moral character.
  • Where the self-petitioner is the abused parent of a USC, evidence that the abusive son or daughter is 21 years of age or over at the time of the petition.

Procedure

  • A VAWA self-petition is filed using Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant.
  • A VAWA self-petition is filed together with supporting documents of eligibility with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services - Vermont Service Center.
  • There is no filing fee.
  • There is no separate petition for the child of a battered spouse, who is, instead, included in the parent's self-petition.
  • Where the abusive USC spouse has died, a VAWA self-petition must be filed within two years of death.
  • A VAWA self-petition may also be filed during removal proceedings before an immigration court. If granted, application for adjustment of status to permanent resident may be filed with the immigration court, or with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services upon termination of removal proceedings.
  • A denial decision may be appealed to the Administrative Appeals Office or the Board of Immigration Appeals.
  • A denied I-360 self-petition may also be subjected to judicial review at a U.S. district court.

Benefits of VAWA Approval

  • Permission to remain in the United States in Deferred Action status.
  • Eligible to apply for an Employment Authorization Document using Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization.
  • Eligible to apply for lawful permanent residence in the United States concurrently with VAWA self-petition or upon approval of same. (Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status).
  • Eligible to obtain United States citizenship 3 years after obtaining LPR status as a battered self-petitioner.

General Bars to VAWA Adjustment of Status: Inadmissibility, Waivers, and Exceptions.

The following are general bars to admissibility for purposes of adjusting status to that of permanent resident possibly subjected to applicable waivers or exceptions:

  • Accrued unlawful presence of over 180 days but less than a year, or over one year.
  • Reentry after being unlawfully present in the United States for more than a year or after removal.
  • Health-related grounds.
  • Single offense of simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana.
  • Fraud and misrepresentation of a material fact.

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