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What is VAWA visa?

Under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), you may be eligible to become a lawful permanent resident (get a Green Card) if you are the victim of battery or extreme cruelty committed by:
If you are the victim of assault or extreme cruelty committed by –

  • A U.S. citizen spouse or former spouse;
  • A U.S. citizen parent;
  • A U.S. citizen son or daughter;
  • A lawful permanent resident (LPR) spouse or former spouse; or
  • An LPR parent.

You may be eligible to become a lawful permanent resident (obtain a Green Card) under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

How to Apply for the I-360, what documents are needed for the VAWA Application?

If you are currently residing in the United States and meet certain other criteria (such as having an immigrant visa available immediately), you can apply for a Green Card without leaving the country by submitting Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. To be eligible for a Green Card, you must have an approved Form I-360. However, if a visa is immediately available to you, you will not have to wait until your Form I-360 is approved to file Form I-485. If you are a VAWA self-petitioner seeking to adjust Status as an immediate relative, you may file Form I-485 at any time. This is because visas are always immediately available for immediate relatives. However, if you are a VAWA self-petitioner seeking to adjust under a family-based preference category, you may need to wait for a visa to become available. If a visa is immediately available, you may file your Form I-485:

  • Concurrently with your Form I-360;
  • While your Form I-360 is pending; or
  • After your Form I-360 is approved (and remains valid).

If you already have a pending Form I-485 based on an approved Form I-130, Petition for the foreign relative that the abusive family member filed for you, you may request to convert your Form I-485 so that it is based on your VAWA self-petition. You must intimate the USCIS field office adjudicating the pending Form I-485 that you have filed or will submit a VAWA self-petition within 30 days to make this request. You should also provide a secure address to the USCIS field office where they can send all future correspondence to you. If you are unable to submit evidence of a filed VAWA self-petition within 30 days of requesting to convert your Form I-485, USCIS may make a decision on your pending application based on the original Form I-130 filed by the abusive family member. Otherwise, if USCIS approves your VAWA self-petition, your application to adjust Status will be based on the VAWA self-petition instead of the original Form I-130.

Documents Required For VAWA Self Petitioners

Following documents are required to be submitted by the VAWA self petitioner. You will need to submit the original documents if they are specifically requested in the form instructions or the regulations applicable at that time.

  • Evidence that the abuser carries a U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent resident status;
  • Documents like, marriage and divorce decrees, birth certificates, or other evidence of your legal relationship to the abuser;
  • Employment records, utility receipts, school records, hospital or medical records, birth certificates of children, mortgages, rental records, insurance policies, or affidavits any other documentation that demonstrate you and the abuser lived together.
  • Documents showing abuse, like reports and affidavits from police, judges, court officials, medical staff, school authorities, clergy, social workers, and other social care agency personnel as evidence of abuse. If you have a protective order or have taken other legal steps to stop the abuse, you can attach copies of those court documents.
  • Your affidavit of good moral character, accompanied by a local police clearance, state-issued criminal background check, or similar report from each locality or state in the United States or abroad where you resided for six or more months during the three-year period immediately before you filed your self-petition (For applicants with 14 years of age or older); and
  • If you’re a spouse, provide proof that you married in good faith. It can be something like a proof that one spouse is listed as the other’s spouse on insurance policies, property leases, properly filed tax forms, or bank records.

If available, you may also submit your affidavit or the affidavits of others who know about your courtship, wedding ceremony, shared home, and other life experiences.

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Other Type Of Green Card

Eligibility for Adjustment of Status

If you have been a victim, you may self-petition under VAWA by filing a Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (Form I-360). The petition can be filed without your abusive family member’s knowledge or consent. You may be able to apply to become a lawful permanent resident if your self-petition is authorized and you meet other eligibility requirements. To be eligible for a Green Card as a VAWA self-petitioner –

  • You must properly file the Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status;
  • You must be physically present in the U.S. at the time you file your Form I-485;
  • You must be eligible to receive an immigrant visa;
  • An immigrant visa is immediately available to you at the time you file your Form I-485 and when USCIS makes a final decision on your application;
  • None of the bars to adjustment of Status apply to you;
  • You are admissible to the U.S. for lawful permanent residence or eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility or other forms of relief; and
  • You merit the favorable exercise of USCIS’ discretion.

Bars To adjustment

Depending on how you entered the United States or if you committed a particular act or violation of immigration law, you may be barred from adjusting Status. However, VAWA self-petitioner and beneficiaries are exempt from all of these bars to adjustment. You can reach out to our immigration lawyers to know more about the bars to adjustment.

Family Members

If you are the unmarried child under 21 years old of a VAWA-based principal applicant, you may also be eligible to apply for a Green Card as a derivative family member of an approved VAWA self-petitioner. However, you may not file as a derivative if the principal applicant is a self-petitioning parent of an abusive U.S. citizen son or daughter. Considering the complexities attached under VAWA, reaching an experienced immigration lawyer is advisable to avoid missing timelines mentioned in the law.

At the Law Offices of Prashanthi Reddy, PLLC, New York, we possess years of experience in representing clients under VAWA.
Our immigration lawyers can help you in the timely filing of the green card application under VAWA and ensure that all the requirements in the law have been fulfilled. Reach out to the Law Offices of Prashanthi Reddy, PLLC, at or call us at 212-354-1010.


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