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VAWA Visa: USA Immigration Law Reform

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VAWA Visa Information

VAWA Visa: USA Immigration Law Reform Violence Against Women

General Overview

The Violence Against Women Act of 2013 (VAWA 2013) provides an overview of substantive changes and technical fixes to both the VAWA and the TVPRA.

Practice pointers for attorneys and advocates on how to work with these new changes are provided by ASISTA staff.

The 2008 decision allowing self-petitioners who were formerly denied Adjustment of Status (because of illegal entry or entry without inspection) to file a motion to reopen was made.

VAWA 2005: H.R 3402 with Senate Amendments (December 16, 2005) amended VAWA to allow self-petitioners who were previously denied adjustment status the ability to file a motion to reopen their case.

ASISTA staff prepared practice pointers for VAWA 2005 changes that include special thank yous to Evangelina Abriel and Susan Schreiber from CLINIC who contributed to the analysis.

An Overview of Pro Bono Representation in VAWA Self-Petition

There are a number of resources available to support pro bono attorneys in representing VAWA petitioners.

The most common types of cases handled by pro bono attorneys are self-petitions and immigrant family seeking asylum.

>>Psychological evaluation for immigration<<


What is the Violence Against Women Act?

What are its key provisions?

The main provisions of VAWA are:

* providing funding for programs to help victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking;

* creating new civil rights protections for people who have experienced abuse;

* making it easier for prosecutors to bring charges against perpetrators of abuse;

* providing support services to victims and witnesses.

VAWA (I-360) Process Flow Chart

The Violence Against Women Act form is the USCIS Form I-360

The I-360 can be used for a number of different purposes, including adjusting citizenship status

The form is straightforward and the simplest part of the VAWA application process

Adjustment of Status (I-485) Process Flow Chart

To apply for adjustment of status, you must file the I-485 application.

You must have a valid visa or other immigration document that allows you to stay in the United States.

You must meet all eligibility requirements for the type of status you are applying for.

If your visa has expired, you will not be able to adjust your status unless you can get a new visa first.

There are Several steps in the process and it can take several months to receive a decision on your adjustment of status application

If approved, an immigrant visa will be issued and sent to your home country or consulate overseas

Title: Adjustment of Status (I-485) Process Flow Chart

Heading: Adjustment of Status (I-485) Process Flow Chart

VAWA: Legal Citations

S. citizens who are in danger in their home countries.

Legal citations relevant to the VAWA application can be found on this page.

The list is organized by category, and includes memos from the USCIS as well as court rulings and statutes.

Among the immigration rights made available by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is that spouses and children exposed to abuse by their U.S. citizen or permanent resident petitioner-sponsors can benefit.


The Violence Against Women Act provides immigration benefits for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. Victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking may qualify for U-visas, T-visas and U-visa waivers.

S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents.

Under VAWA, certain foreign nationals no longer have to rely on their family-member abusers to help them obtain lawful status in the United States and may self-petition for a green card (using USCIS Form I-360 ).

When seeking assistance in this event, it is prudent to remember how private your computer, Internet, and phone service are. Bear in mind what precautions you can take to protect yourself from being found out. For instance, do not disclose that your are executing research or seeking help.

>>Psychological evaluation for immigration<<

Eligibility Requirements for a VAWA Green Card

S. citizen or permanent resident).

Despite the name of the law, VAWA applies equally to both male and female petitioners.

Some of them might at least be able to apply for a work permit, however. See Filling Out Form I-765V: Instructions for Abused Spouses With Temporary Visas .

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

Abuse or Battery Occurred During the Relationship

The law requires the petitioner to confirm s/he “has been exposed to a high degree of cruelty or violence while being mentally impaired by a family member or spouse of the LPR.” Examples of “violence” include physical violence and sexual abuse.

U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) considers An extreme beating, harmful behavior, threats of deporting or removing you, and inhumane detention are necessary to be featured as “extreme cruelty” Un terapeuta de inmigración les puede ayudar.

Eligibility requirements for battered parents

To be eligible to apply for adjustment of status as a VAWA self-petitioner, you must meet all of the following requirements:

*You must have been physically present in the United States on or before October 15, 1990.

*You must be a citizen of the United States or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence.

You can only file one application for adjustment of status per family.

If you are applying as a spouse or child of an authorized immigrant who is already in the United States, your relationship to that person will not affect your eligibility to adjust status.

You cannot file as an unmarried partner or parent without children if your spouse is also seeking adjustment of status and meets all of the requirements listed in this section.

VAWA Self-Petition

S.citizen or legal permanent resident spouses, parents or children to sponsor their Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) applications.

If your VAWA self-petition is approved you will receive work authorization, deferred action and an approved noncitizen petition which will allow you to apply for legal permanent residency.

Self-petitions are available to: spouses and former spouses of abusive U.S citizens or lawful permanent residents; divorced spouses who filed before turning 25; and children of abusive citizens or lawful permanent residents who file before turning 25

VAWA History & Regulations

The first law implementing VAWA was enacted in 2000.

In 1996, a memo was published providing guidance on how self-petitioners should proceed.

There are several provisions included in VAWA 2000 that were not present in the original 1996 law.

Evidentiary Protections and Confidentiality

Evidentiary protections and confidentiality provisions of 8 USC 1367 apply to self-petitioners.

Disclosure of information obtained from abusers or other prohibited sources is prohibited.

Change of address requests cannot be submitted online, by mail, or by telephonic request if you are a VAWA self-petitioner.

VAWA Legislation and Statutes

VAWA Legislation

* The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) is a federal law that provides protections for individuals who have been abused.

* VAWA includes provisions regarding: – eligibility for benefits – services provided to survivors of abuse – crimes committed against victims of abuse and more. An immigration can be of service if abuse has been affecting your mental health.

Statutes Related to VAWA

” This means that all non-citizens are covered under VAWA, including illegal aliens.

Important Dates in the History of VAWA

W. Bush signs into law the Violence Against Women Act of 1990.

* February 25, 1994 – The final version of VAWA is signed into law.

This policy memorandum (PM) provides guidance on VAWA self-petitions for “children” who file between age 21 and 25.

USCIS Policy Memorandum: Eligibility to Self-Petition as a Battered or Abused Parent of a U.S. Citizen (August 31, 2011).

USCIS Policy Memorandum: Revocation of VAWA-Based-Self-Petitions (Forms I-360)(December 15, 2010).

USCIS Memorandum: Adjudicating Forms I-212 for Aliens Inadmissible Under Section 212(a)(9)(C) or Subject to Reinstatement Under Section 241(a)(5) in light of Gonzalez v. DHS 508 F.

This policy memorandum (PM) offers information regarding Reapplication of Admission and Adjustment of Status after a prior Removal Order or inadmissibility under section 212 (a)(9)(C)(i)(II).

USCIS Interoffice Memorandum: Consolidation of Guidance Concerning Unlawful Presence for Purposes of Sections 212(a)(9)(B)(i) and 212(aection 9 )C (May 6, 2009).

USCIS Memorandum: Revised Guidance for Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) (May 6, 2008).

USCIS Memorandum: Adjustment of Status for VAWA Self-Petitioner Who is Present Without Inspection (April 11, 2008).

ICE Memorandum: Interim Guidance Relating to Officer Procedure Following Enactment of VAWA 2005 (January 22, 2007).

USCIS Interoffice Memorandum: Disposition of Cases Involving Removable Aliens (July 11, 2006).

USCIS Interoffice Memorandum: Legal and Discretionary Analysis for Adjudication (May 3, 2006).

S. citizen or lawful permanent resident are eligible to apply for naturalization under Section 319 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

The change in law is effective January 27, 2005.

At the Vermont Service Center (VSC), adjudicators must now determine whether an alien has good moral character based on evidence from the applicant’s case file and any other relevant information.

Battered aliens who self-petition may be protected from deportation under Section 209(a) of the INA if they meet certain eligibility criteria.

Other related DOJ memos provide guidance on:

* age out protection afforded battered children pursuant to CSPA and VTVPR

* the meaning of “severe physical abuse”

* unlawful presence and authorized periods of stay.

VAWA Overview/VAWA Reauthorization Acts

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was reauthorized in 2013.

The act provides an overview of substantive changes and technical fixes to both the VAWA and the TVPRA.

Practice pointers for attorneys and advocates on how to work with these new changes are provided by ASISTA staff.

Eligibility for VAWA Self-Petitions

We are here to help you collect evidence in a situation that may seem impossible to do so.

VAWA immigration cases are confidential. The government will not contact you directly to ensure your safety.

Proof of Abuser USC or LPR Status

Lawful Admission for Permanent Residence

Section 318 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) requires a naturalization applicant to show that he or she has been lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence in accordance with all applicable provisions of the INA in effect at the time of admission or adjustment Learn more at >>LPR Status<<

Good Faith Marriage

Some states recognize common law marriages.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has a memo stating that self-petitions filed by battered spouses within two years of their divorce are not automatically denied due to the fact that they may have been married in good faith.

S. citizen.

Section 241(a)(1) of the Immigration and Nationality Act prohibits an immigrant from entering the United States if they have a visa that was obtained based on a fraudulent marriage.

This law applies to immigrants at the time they enter the United States, even if they are not considered to be in violation of immigration quotas.

Shared Residence

Shared residence is not required for self-petitioners in order to apply for VAWA benefits.

This decision was litigated by Matthew Kriezelman.

Case Type: Asylum

Shared residence refers to living in the same household as a spouse, child, or other family member.

Shared residence is generally considered beneficial because it helps strengthen family ties and reduces the likelihood of marital conflict.

There are a few exceptions to shared residence that may be warranted based on a person’s unique situation, such as if one spouse is abusive or if one spouse has been incarcerated.

Shared residence should only be entered into voluntarily by both spouses and should not be imposed unilaterally by either party without consulting with an attorney.

Entering into shared residence can have financial implications for both spouses, including potential income losses and increased expenses related to joint housing arrangements (e.g., rent, utilities).

Battery or Extreme Cruelty

Battery or extreme cruelty is defined in law

There are legal standards that must be met in order to prove battery or extreme cruelty

Legal standards for proving battery or extreme cruelty vary depending on the type of offense

Judicial discretion is generally granted when it comes to determining whether battery or extreme cruelty has occurred

Amicus Brief on Extreme Cruely

Amicus Brief discusses extreme cruelty in the form of children witnessing abuse in the home, providing the history and purpose of VAWA as context and social science background.

Power and Control Wheel representation of different tactics of power and control used against immigrant women.

Domestic Violence Advocate Affidavit Guidelines outline what kind of information affidavits should include, as well as factors that may prove extreme hardship.

Motion for Leave to File Amici Curiae Brief and Appendix of Authorities In Support Of Petitioner And Reversal is filed by National Network to End Violence Against Immigrant Women, Legal Momentum, Family Violence Prevention Fund and ASISTA Immigration Assistance Project.


The amici argue that extreme hardship is a factor to consider when making a determination whether to grant asylum or refugee status.

The amici believe that the statute and its implementing regulations are unconstitutional because they do not take into account all forms of cruel treatment and torture, including mental anguish caused by fear of persecution on account of membership in a particular social group or political opinion.

Good Moral Character

The change of the law concerning determination of good moral character made in connections with VAWA-based self-petitions (Form I-360) is discussed.

The chart of various statutory bars to establishing good moral character and whether they are “waivable” for purposes of overcoming good moral character problems for VAWA self-petitioners is provided.

False testimony standards are discussed based on authorities affecting false testimony determinations.

A person must have good moral character to be a doctor.

A doctor must meet certain requirements in order to have good moral character.

The requirements for good moral character vary depending on the type of doctor.

There are three types of doctors: general practitioners, specialists, and surgeons.

General practitioners must meet the same requirements as specialists and surgeons in order to have good moral character.

AAO Decisions

The AAO has approved a VAWA petition filed by a 24-year-old applicant.

The AAO determined that being under an abusive parents’ control qualified as “one central reason for filing delay” and therefore excuses the failure to file an I-360 self-petition before the applicant’s 21st birthday.

VAWA Forms and Instructions

S. citizen or permanent resident.

You cannot receive a green card if you are a relative of someone in the U.S. on a temporary visa (for example, an immigrant).

There are different forms for different types of relationships, and depending on your situation, you might be able to apply for either a work permit or a green card.

>>Psychological evaluation for immigration<<

VAWA Resources/Filing a VAWA Case

There are filing deadlines for VAWA cases.

Initial filings for VAWA cases must be made with USCIS.

Flagging inadmissibility is important to consider when assessing a case for VAWA eligibility.

To file a VAWA case with USCIS, you must first contact your state domestic violence agency.

You will need to provide information about the abuse, such as when and where it occurred, names of the alleged abuser(s), and supporting documentation.

You may also need to provide evidence that you are eligible for benefits under VAWA (such as a police report or protective order).

If you decide to pursue your case with USCIS, be prepared to provide additional documentation (such as court orders) and answer questions about your situation.

VAWA Adjustment of Status

Advisories & Articles on VAWA Adjustment of Status

Legislation/Memos on VAWA Adjustment of Status

Checklists/Templates for VAWA Adjustment of Status

Case Law on VAWA Adjustment of Status

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