How to Opt for VAWA Self-Petition
Under VAWA or the Violence Against Women Act, you can apply for becoming a permanent resident of the US. For this, you need to be a victim of abuse or battery committed by:
- A parent who is also US citizen
- A spouse or former spouse who is also US citizen
- A son or daughter who is also US citizen
- A lawful permanent resident partner or spouse.
- A lawful permanent resident parent
You can self-petition under VAWA by simply filing a petition for widow or special immigrant without the consent or knowledge of the abuser. For self-petition regarding special immigrant, you need to fill up Form I-360. If you file for VAWA self-petition, you will be known as a VAWA self-petitioner. After the approval of your self-petition, you can apply for becoming a lawful permanent resident added that you need to meet the other eligibility requirements.
Eligibility for VAWA self-petitioner
In order to be eligible as a VAWA self-petitioner for your green card, you need to meet the following criteria:
- You need to file up Form I-485 for Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
- You need to be present physically in the US when you will file for Form I-485
- You will be getting an immigrant visa as you file Form I-485 and also when USCIS takes final decision regarding your application.
- You need to merit the favorable exercise regarding USCIS discretion.
You can get immigrant visa completely based upon:
- You need to fill up Form I-360.
- You can receive immigrant visa depending upon a previously filed VAWA self-petition.
- VAWA self-petition which is filed along with Form I-485.
How to apply
If you are residing in the US and you meet the other requirements required for filing, you can file Form I-485. This allows you to apply for a green card without even leaving the country.
You need to have an approved Form I-360 for qualifying for a green card. In case you are a VAWA self-petitioner and willing to adjust your status as an immediate relative, you can file Form I-485 any time you want. This is because you can get a visa any time if you are an immediate relative. In case, visa is available immediately, you can go ahead and file Form I-485:
- Concurrently with your Form I-360
- When your Form I-360 is still pending
- After your Form I-360 gets approved or remains valid
In case you are having a Form I-485 which is based on approved form I-130, which is the Petition for Alien Relative, you can request for converting your Form I-485 so that it gets based on VAWA self-petition. The Form I-130 may be filed by the abusive family member for you. For requesting to change Form I-485, you need to notify USCIS office to settle Form I-485. You need to inform the office of USCIS that you have already filed for VAWA self-petition.
What documents to submit?
For adjusting your status, you need to submit the following evidence and documents:
- Filled up Form I-485
- Two passport photographs
- Copy of any Government issued ID that contains your photograph.
- A copy of your certificate of birth.
- Copy of the page of your passport with any non-immigrant visa if applicable
- Copy of the page of your passport with parole stamp which has been issued by any US immigrant officer if applicable.
- Clear records from police and court regarding any criminal activity of yours. If you have been convicted under any criminal case, it might happen that you will get barred from the privileges.